30 Minutes Project by Jacqueline Patton

One of my biggest fears (besides the obvious, like death and/or getting lost floating in outer space) is living on autopilot. Coasting. Letting life just happen to me instead of consciously deciding what I want and living that out. Here’s the problem, life gets busy (I hate saying I’m busy all the time, but I feel that way more often than is probably healthy). And our ambitions to be creatively inspired get hit by the "must-do-now” train and we put the rest on hold until there’s “time” for it. But there’s never really time. Creativity doesn’t just come to you, though - you have to practice it. It’s a discipline. A discipline that we sideline to let the practical responsibilities of life play first-string.

Recently I’ve been so busy (ugh, that word again) with work and obligations and travel and editing that I realized I needed to do something to force myself to pay attention to life, even when I don’t have the time. So I challenged myself to take a photo every 30-ish minutes for an entire day. I had no idea what would come of it, or if I’d enjoy it, or how I’d feel, or if the photos would suck. But I set my alarm for every 30 minutes one day last week and, while the pictures aren’t all the most inspired (although some I do love), the sum of them did inspire me, as did the process.

It made me really appreciate that there are so many elements to a day, even when we feel that it zips by. One singular day is a complete journey in-and-of-itself. It forced me to stop in my tracks over and over again to pay attention to what was around me. It was like a meditation of sorts, where I made myself find something, anything, to capture in stillness at that moment. And at the end of the day when I scrolled though the photos, it was strangely comforting to see a little documentation of life - the things that otherwise slip by and are taken for granted.

This particular day last week included a lot of editing on the computer, taking my son to his check-up, a trip to Marshall’s to re-group and get some unnecessary items, karate, soccer, an unexpected princess sighting, Trader Joe’s, and Sauvignon Blanc.

I’m going to do it again, and the plan is to create a series of days. But a series starts with 1, so here is the start…

(and yes, these are all shot on iphone…I couldn’t commit to lugging my camera around for the entire day…baby steps)

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Simone Tai - A Deep Breath by Jacqueline Patton

(Click through to scroll through more pics)

Back in my 20s, when I lived in Brooklyn after my NYU days, I had a lot of “me” time. But, looking back, I see that a lot of that “me” time was a restless, anxious time. It was fun time, but restless. I was in my early 20s and was trying to discover my place in the world. I graduated from college and ran off to Europe for a bit, came back to the city, bartended for a while as I contemplated the possibility of going for a PhD in psychology, and then became temporarily obsessed with the food industry and considered culinary school. (And then there was the brief moment of working in a cubicle and quickly realized it wasn’t for me). And then, of course - I always just wanted to be Oprah. That part is still basically true.

In those days when I wasn’t married and didn’t have kids, and lived a very free artsy life in the city, I found myself taking super long walks (and this was well before iphones). I recall one time I impulsively left my apartment in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) with a few dollars stuffed into my shoe and my keys tied onto my laces. I literally had no destination - I just wanted to walk. I walked across the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan, through the Lower East Side, up through Nolita, the East Village, up 5th Avenue, and eventually made it to the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. I didn’t map it out at the time, but it’s about 6 miles, one-way. Not having thought things completely through, by the time I got to Central Park, I was so thirsty that I took the sweaty dollar bills out of my shoe and bought a cold water from a vendor (my apologies to that vendor for having to touch my gross damp sock dollars). Right after making the transaction, I looked at my change and realized…oh shit…I don’t have enough to get back home on the subway. I had to walk home. And I did. I think a lot of our younger years are like that walk. We want to go somewhere, we aren’t sure where, so we take off without a plan, and we have to learn that next time…do it better.

It was in those days that I knew myself pretty well in some regards - I was very social but made time to be me with all my quirks. If I felt like eating at a restaurant alone, I wouldn’t think twice about it. I’d go to the Angelica Theater on random days off and pick whatever foreign film was playing and daydream about life in Germany or France. I’d sit in cafes and write for hours, sometimes about nothing more than my feelings. (It’s hard to believe I was that cool once…a good time for me now is watching soulless garbage on Bravo). All the while, I was still wandering inside (and out) - knowing I hadn’t quite found my footing in life.

It was the early 2000s and yoga was emerging as mainstream, and there was no shortage of studios and gurus and wellness options in the budding little gritty neighborhood of W-Burg (although, now it has a Whole Foods and looks like Tribeca and is insanely highly populated). When Bedford Avenue still looked like a small-town street, I went to beautiful little yoga studio with big windows and white-washed exposed brick walls thinking- this might be the thing that helps me figure it all out. But it wasn’t. The teacher made me feel like I was not “one of them” if I wasn’t vegan and didn’t chant on the reg.’ It was a world that I couldn’t genuinely tap into. I was a former soccer player and gymnast and prep school kid- I didn’t understand reward without intensity and pain. I didn’t understand how to soften up, to let go. And how to feel like by simply doing nothing at all, I was accomplishing something on another lever. And I still sometimes struggle with that, but I’m getting better.

But it wasn’t until after my 2nd kid was born that I hit a breaking point and my postpartum anxiety wasn’t something I could ignore. I went to my doctors (yes, multiple doctors over a couple of years) and said, “Something is wrong with me. I can’t take a full breath. I’m getting heart palpitations. I don’t feel like I’m HERE.” Three different doctors all told me the same thing, “You’re high functioning, you get out of bed every morning, you take care of your kids, you exercise regularly, you are social, you run a successful business. You’re fine, just take some Xanax.” But I wasn’t fine, and I didn’t take the Xanax. Maybe I should have, but for whatever reason, I didn’t. And it’s true - I didn’t “look” sick or depressed. But something wasn’t right and I knew that I didn’t want to live my life with that as my new normal.

So I started meditating at the recommendation of a therapist. I was like - yeah, yeah…whatever, I’ll try it. But I didn’t have much hope in it. And it didn’t work. Or so I thought. It didn’t work after the first time. It didn’t work after the 10th time. After about a year, I didn’t even know if I was actually meditating when I was meditating. But then something happened. Situations that would have previously sent me into a tailspin of negative thought didn’t take me down anymore. All of a sudden, I had perspective. And for the first time ever, I had compassion for myself. And I could BREATH. For the times I wasn’t happy and felt guilty about it, for the times I wasn’t perfect and couldn’t let it go, for the times I felt anger…I started to feel a newfound compassion. It was freedom. And I know that what got me there was over and over and over again, letting myself stop. And breath. It changes your brain, it changes your chemistry. It heals.

I’m still a work in progress, but through the journey I’ve been fortunate enough to meet people who TRULY know this bliss and help others practice it in a way that is really palatable and easy to digest (like Simone, interviewed below!). I used to believe that we could be in control of life. But we can’t. We can only control how we chose to EXPERIENCE life.

And that brings me to Simone! She is a meditation teacher at Den Meditation in Los Angeles, the co-founder of Meditation and Mimosas (group meditation events), and so much more. I love how open and honest and real Simone’s answers are…she doesn’t claim to be perfect, which is so refreshing from a leader in the wellness community. It’s been such a gift to watch her lead groups in meditation, and her smile is infectious. I can’t wait to see where her journey goes. Read more about her below, and check out her and, if you’re in LA - head to The Den for her classes! XO


What was your very first job?

Grooming, cleaning and feeding horses and collecting their poop at the stables when I was 14 years old (I volunteered to get free riding lessons). My mum would convince me it’s ok to pick up the horse poop because there’s only grass in there!


What do you do within the first 10 minutes of waking up?  Do you have a ritual/routine?

Avoid turning airplane mode off my phone and walk like a zombie straight into the living room to meditate. Although, I’m bang into the celery juice health craze right now so I’m starting with 16oz celery juice on an empty stomach (recommended by the medical medium). It’s been 3 weeks and I’m a convert. I feel more energized, less bloated and my blood sugar levels are way more balanced.


What’s one lesson this past year has taught you:

Sitting in the pain and adding self-compassion (rather than numbing it with food, alcohol, work or distraction) is the sure fire way to shift it.  I’m a big fan of Self-Compassion practices for helping break my life time of negative self talk and supporting me through a very rocky and ongoing fertility journey. I’m currently doing a course in this subject (MSC by Kristin Neff & Christopher Girmer). For anyone interested I recommend this book ‘Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself’ by Dr. Kristin Neff

 
When you feel creatively drained or up against a wall, what’s something you do to break through it?

Stop what I’m doing and go for a walk. There's a reason you have the best ideas in the shower or on the loo… For me it’s being around nature or art or sometimes just being in a shop.  I love the book ‘The Artist's Way’ by Julia Cameron for filling up my creative well. She recommends taking yourself (no one else) on a regular ‘artists date’ for this exact purpose of breaking creative blocks.  I love to wander around the Melrose Trading post flea market on a Sunday and watch people, or look through crafts and junk. I don’t even need to buy anything, just soaking it all in is enough.

 
What’s your favorite thing for dinner?

It sounds quite boring but I’m big into soup at the moment as I need something easy, warm and tasty. I’ve just started using a delivery called Splendid Spoon and love it! Vegan, gluten free, easy and yum.

 
If you could give advice to yourself 10 years ago, what would you say?

Looking back all my best lessons were learned through experiencing something shitty, making the mistakes and then trying every book, class and fad in town to get out of it, eventually I found what worked for me so I wouldn't change that process. However, the ride could have been a lot smoother if I learned how to meditate much earlier. This is been one of the best tools to help me navigate through some really difficult times and find a way to come out smiling.
 

What would you try for NOW if you knew you couldn’t fail? 

If I couldn't fail at being a terrible singer... I would sing all the time and sound just like Adele :) 
 

How did you start doing what you’re doing right now as a career? 

Like most LA people I have more than 1 career, I’m an unscripted TV producer / meditation teacher. I enjoy them both for different reasons but one feeds my creativity the other feeds my soul.

I started in TV by doing work experience 18 years ago for a production company called Endemol in London, I worked on lots of weird comedy and reality shows, my first boss was Charlie Brooker (creator of Black Mirror). I worked my way up the ladder and went on to be the showrunner of the biggest UK dating game show ‘Take Me Out’.  When I came to LA I continued to produce shows like ‘Masterchef’, ‘The Four’ and ‘Fastest Car’ for Netflix. I still love the TV industry because as a Freelancer every day is different, it continues to challenge me creatively and it’s the place I met so many of my best friends and my husband! 

The only rub to climbing the success ladder in this industry is the more responsibilty and hrs I worked, the more overwhelmed I became. That’s when meditation came to the rescue, so I immersed myself in it, and as cliche as it sounds the stronger, happier and more successful I became. I started with a 400hr teacher training course at The Den, LA and now teach classes there including some fun new pop ups on this exact theme ‘mindfulness & success’. I also love creating events like ‘Meditation & Mimosas’ the perfect mix of wellness and fun.

 
When do you feel the most YOU?

When I’m doing something that makes me feel ALIVE like galloping on a horse or surfing. But surprisingly I don't get to do that every day so it’s usually when I’m on the sofa in my comfies with my husband watching the 5000th episode of Friends. 

 
If you had a completely open day with no obligations, how would you spend it? 

At a hippy retreat. I would literally spend my life on a retreat if I could ;)

 
Self-care – do you practice it?  If so, what are your favorite ways to take care of yourself from the inside out?

Yes! I have to schedule it in though because putting myself first doesn't come eu naturel.  I feel my best when I’m eating consciously, getting in daily meditation, and laughing regularly - often at myself.

 
Dream travel destination:  what is it, why, and have you been??! 

I’d love to go to China and see where my Grandad came from and take a stroll on the Great Wall but also I’d love to go on safari in Africa to witness first hand the beautiful animals and planet we’re so fortunate to live on and so often forget.

 
Lastly – can you tell me what you are working on currently?

YES I’m starting pop up guided meditation classes at The Den starting next Sunday Feb 10th ‘The Mindful Guide to Fertility’  (9am La Brea) and ‘The Mindful Guide to Success’ (10.30am Studio City).

Book classes here: https://denmeditation.com/meditation-classes-los-angeles-schedule/

All upcoming classes & events on my insta – simonetaimeditates

And my wesbite www.simonetai.com

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Max Darwin - More than Magic by Jacqueline Patton

So, I’ve recently dropped the ball a bit with writing. I’ve spent my life being a very all-or-nothing person. If I don’t stay 100% consistent, I might as well not do it. If I eat a cookie mid-day, welp…I’m screwed already and I might as well eat nachos and cake for dinner. But, I’m cutting myself some slack and accepting that sometimes you just don’t have time for stuff…so pick it back up when you do and don’t stress about it. The old me might have just not written again here at all if I skipped a week or two. But life happens and things get in the way…and I’m learning to be OK with imperfection.

I just got back from Hawaii, which was MAGICAL. Although, I feel immediately thrust back into reality again of the scheduling, kids stuff, emails, the bills, doctors appointments…”life.” The experience I had away was different than I’ve ever felt before, and I’m trying to figure out why. I’ve traveled a lot, but there is sometimes a restlessness with it. I’ve never been very good at…relaxing. I’m good at fun, but not good at relaxing. What’s next…what’s the plan…is everything working out…how many more days do we have…what’s going on at home…am I doing the most with my time that I can? It’s like - shut the f up, head!

What was different this time? I went to Hawaii to shoot an amazing wedding, and the day after the wedding, D and the kids flew to Honolulu and we spent a week there as a family. I flew in alone on a Thursday, and the wedding was on Saturday. Which left me with no agenda (and no company) in Oahu on Thursday night and all of Friday. So I checked into my hotel in Waikiki in the late afternoon, dropped my bags off in the room, and immediately ran across the road to the beach to take in the ocean. I literally didn’t even sit when I got to my hotel room. I just ran to the ocean. I didn’t feel the urge to look at my phone and check in with the world - and I was alone and far away, but somehow didn’t feel lonely. I was just there and content. And that’s not something that comes naturally to me. I can be laid back, but I’m also tightly wound. So it struck me.

I had dinner that night alone at an open-air rooftop bar overlooking the Pacific. On my way back to my hotel, I slowly wandered in and out of shops, watched people walking by, and took my time. The next day, I woke up early enough to see the sun rise. I didn’t set an alarm. I didn’t have to coordinate anything. I just got up and did what I wanted to do at that moment. And for the first time in as long as I can remember, I literally had NOTHING on a list to accomplish. For one day, I had nowhere to be. Nobody to plan things around. I literally just did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

I walked for miles that day. I walked miles along the beach, in the town, all over. I didn’t talk to anyone (besides calls to my family, of course). But I needed nothing from anyone. It was like this little gift of time and space. And I realized a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, as a business owner, as a person who cares for the needs of others and loves to take on that role and does it with pride…we don’t let ourselves just BE. We feel guilty for actually allowing ourselves to ENJOY alone-time. Because if you enjoy being alone, do that mean you love those around you less? NO! On the contrary. But even typing it I’m wondering - will people judge me because I felt full even when my loved ones weren’t physically there? Did I miss them? Of course! I miss them every time I leave the house. I miss the kids every time I drop them off at school - I even miss them when they are asleep. I miss them when they’re in the next room. I was eagerly anticipating the minute D and the kids were to land in Honolulu and we’d get to be together again.

But for that moment, for that day - I realized that I’d also missed ME. The ME that’s not a mom and wife and daughter and photographer…the ME that isn’t something in relation to anything else. Just ME. When we’re younger, we know who we are in a way that we forget as we assign ourselves to roles. I used to spend hours drawing, or holed up in my room singing to nobody, or writing in my journal the most random trains of thought. I was connected to myself. And sometimes you just need to take away all of the stuff that make feel responsible for things outside of you to remember again that YOU are still in there. I realized that while I was physically alone, I didn’t feel by myself; I felt WITH myself. And that’s a pretty magical feeling.

———————-

And in other magical news!!! I want to share this brilliant artist with you today - Max Darwin! The Amazing Max. The New York Times and countless others have raved about his magic skills and performances - but maybe the very best things about Max is something that nobody can replicate or teach. It’s the way he makes people FEEL. It’s the connection he gives to his audience - it’s his edgy playfulness and the way he really gets how to connect with people. He was born into a family of Scottish performance artists, so I guess he’s been training for this his whole life.

Also his Instagram videos always crack me up…

(Click HERE for more from my shoot with Max - NYC)

JACKIE: What was your very first job?

MAX: Unpaid.  My parents put me in their mime act when I was in a stroller.  I couldn’t protest.

JACKIE: What do you do within the first 10 minutes of waking up?  Do you have a ritual/routine?

MAX: Drink water.  immediately go to the gym.

JACKIE: What’s one lesson this past year has taught you?

MAX: The positive effect that meditation has on me.

JACKIE: When you feel creatively drained or up against a wall, what’s something you do to break through it?

MAX: Walk away from it, go outside for fresh air, and come back to it later.  

JACKIE: What’s your favorite thing for dinner?

MAX: Chicken or steak and vegetables.

JACKIE: If you could give advice to yourself 10 years ago, what would you say?

MAX: Less partying.  More structure and schedule.  

JACKIE: What would you try for NOW if you knew you couldn’t fail?  

MAX: Being John Wick.  Or a Ninja. But mostly John WIck.

JACKIE: How did you start doing what you’re doing right now as a career?  

MAX: I always knew I wanted to work in the arts.  And then at performing arts high school it was solidified.

JACKIE: When do you feel the most YOU?

MAX: On stage or set.

JACKIE: If you had a completely open day with no obligations, how would you spend it?  

MAX: With my wife if I can.  Otherwise writing or doing something fun. That can be a lot of things.

JACKIE: Self-care – do you practice it?  If so, what are your favorite ways to take care of yourself from the inside out?

MAX: meditation, trying to eat clean and healthy,  and physical exercise.

JACKIE: Dream travel destination:  what is it, why, and have you been??!

MAX: Any destination with Bear Grylls.  

Max recently had his first play, Arthur and Merlin, produced in China, is performing all winter in his New York based Off Broadway magic show The Amazing Max, and writing and new play as one of the 2018/19 selected artists in the New Victory Theater’s Labworks program.

Insta: @realmaxdarwin and @theamazingmax

Twitter:  @maxdarwin



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Lauren Molina - A Broadway Star's Life Stripped Down by Jacqueline Patton

Oh, man, guys, the past week and has been a doozy. The LA teacher’s strike had us with kids home, picketing in the pouring rain (worth it), and my husband out of the country for work. Between figuring out how to plan childcare, taking in other kids, finding activities to keep them occupied, making sure they actually read books and learned something, running a business…I’m feeling behind. But PRAISE THE LORD they are back in school today and I can feel slightly more productive. And thankfully I started Marie-Kondo-ing my house the week before because while my brain might have felt like a scattered mess, at least my drawers weren’t. Woohoo! It’s seriously life changing. I also didn’t have the head-space to take on the photo project I wanted to start last week, but it’ll happen.

For today’s interview, we’ve got the gorgeous and incredibly talented and brave Lauren Molina. Back when I first started getting to know her (we were young 20-somethings living in New York), she was auditioning for Sweeny Todd on Broadway and needed to know how to play the Cello. So…she LEARNED to play the Cello and not only auditioned, but booked the role. After that, she killed it in Rock of Ages on Broadway. These days, she’s half of the amazing duo The Skivvies (Nick Cearly is the other - and he is the biggest sweetheart with the voice and smile of an angel). (https://www.theskivviesnyc.com/) They strip it all down - from their clothes to the music…and they have brought in some of Broadway’s most recognized stars to strip down and perform with them (yes, even Lin Manuel Miranda).

When I knew I was going to shoot Lauren and Nick for The Skivvies, I kept trying to figure out what to do for the shoot. We met up at a bar in Hell’s Kitchen (they were fully clothed at the bar), and I told them my plan. I said something like, “Guys…the plan is…we don’t have a plan. We’re going to just feel out how things go, and be spontaneous, and see what we can create.” They were like, “GAME!” So we did a tequila shot, they took off their clothes, and we hit the streets. We caused such a ruckus in Times Square that The Naked Cowboy’s handler tracked us down because he wanted to be a part of the shoot. And, as you can see (you can see more of the shoot HERE), the three of them gave the tourists something to write home about. Now onto Lauren…enjoy!

JACKIE: What was your very first job?

LAUREN: I was a babysitter. 

JACKIE: What do you do within the first 10 minutes of waking up?  Do you have a ritual/routine?

LAUREN: I check my phone. I know it’s bad, but I scroll thru news, emails, Facebook, Instagram, and inevitably I wake up to texts from my best friend and bandmate Nick Cearley. I use my phone to open my eyes and read what is happening. 

JACKIE: What’s one lesson this past year has taught you?

LAUREN: Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Don’t censor yourself if you want to try something new. 

JACKIE: When you feel creatively drained or up against a wall, what’s something you do to break through it? 

LAUREN: Fortunately I have a best friend and collaborator who challenges me everyday to think of new ideas, and concepts for arrangements of songs. We have a band that is constantly putting out new material so when my theatrical career is frustrating I can work on my own thing and that gives me power and fulfillment with my art. 

JACKIE: What’s your favorite thing for dinner?

LAUREN: Fish Tacos 

JACKIE: If you could give advice to yourself 10 years ago, what would you say?

LAUREN: It’s ok to be alone. Don’t allow yourself to be in relationship that is toxic. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. 

JACKIE: What would you try for NOW if you knew you couldn’t fail?  

LAUREN: Drop everything and move to LA to make a tv show with The Skivvies. 

JACKIE: How did you start doing what you’re doing right now as a career?

LAUREN: I moved to New York City in 2003, started auditioning for theatre. I landed a tour, a couple off-Broadway shows, then made my Broadway debut in “Sweeney Todd” in 2005. 

JACKIE: When do you feel the most YOU?

LAUREN: When I’m wearing no makeup, comfy clothes, making music with my friends, laughing, and trying to outdo each other with puns. 

JACKIE: If you had a completely open day with no obligations, how would you spend it?

LAUREN: I’d sleep in, then go to an amazing brunch, if it’s nice out take a walk in the park, see a Broadway show I’m dying to see and splurge on nice seats. 

JACKIE: Self-care – do you practice it?  If so, what are your favorite ways to take care of yourself from the inside out?

LAUREN: I don’t do enough self care, but when I do it involves yoga, massage, and a lot of moisturizing. 

JACKIE: Dream travel destination:  what is it, why, and have you been??!  

LAUREN: I’m dying to go to Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Australia. I want to immerse myself in the majestic natural beauty. 

JACKIE: Lastly – can you tell me what you are working on currently?

LAUREN: The Skivvies are my constant project. Insta: @theskivviesnyc. Our next shows are Valentine’s weekend 2019 in Portland and then March 11 in NYC at Joe’s Pub.  I’ll be in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park playing Lucy in April-May 2019. I’m a co-conceiver of this first ever actor-instrumental production. 

Insta:@lomo212

FB: @laurenmolina

Carsten Hayes - He just went to Japan and I'm super jealous by Jacqueline Patton

Good morning from cold and rainy Los Angeles! LAUSD is on strike, and in support of our teachers, I’ve got the kiddos home until it’s resolved, so I might not have time to get super profound here today. But thankfully, we have Carsten to do that for us! This fabulous actor (you might have recently seen him in The Infiltrator), lives in London now, but is currently off traveling the globe). He contacted me for a shoot when he was in LA a few months ago and I asked him if I could pry and ask him some questions to share here, and he happily agreed (Thanks, Carsten!!).

I’m so grateful to the actors and artists who’ve been open to sharing a bit of themselves here. I really think we have a lot to learn from each other. I have a bunch more interviews in the cue, and will be posting them weekly for the next couple of months...and hopefully beyond that indefinitely. And I’m also going to be sprinkling in other projects I’m working on to challenge my story-telling - I’m willing to be OK with not-perfect outcomes. I think that it’s in those moments, when you dust off the messiness of the process, that you find little gems. I have a documentary style personal project coming up that I’ll be sharing here later this week and have NO idea what it’s going to end up looking like, but we can all see together when I share it here. :)

In the meantime…enjoy Carsten’s interview! And you can check out more of our shoot HERE.

JACKIE: What was your very first job?

CARSTEN: Playing a flying monkey in The Wizard of Oz as a 7 yr old, in an itchy brown felt onesie with ears and tail (loved the tail) - in a very eager school production.

JACKIE: What do you do within the first 10 minutes of waking up? Do you have a ritual/routine?

CARSTEN: I made a decision a few years ago to turn my phone off over night, but with family and friends all over the globe my first action is to turn it on to make sure there’s been no emergencies in a different time zone. Then coffee!

JACKIE: What’s one lesson this year has taught you?

CARSTEN: An old cliche: You just never know what’s around the corner. If it’s good, enjoy it; if not, try and make something positive out of it. If that doesn’t work, have a duvet day, then move on.

JACKIE: When you feel creatively drained or up against a wall, what’s something you do to break through it?

CARSTEN: I like to think of it not as breaking through, but circumventing. I don’t get very far within myself if I’m too focused on on the frustration or blockage. It’s vitally important to have things (and people!) in life that aren’t work related; and there is so much out there in this huge world, all around us. A period of engaging in something else not only takes my mind off the negative, but also often puts things into perspective. My go-tos are photography, climbing, and DIY - generally doing things that are of a manual nature seem like a natural counterpoint to what can often be a very cerebral profession.

JACKIE: Whet’s your favorite thing for dinner?

CARSTEN: You’re joking, right? What you got?

JACKIE: If you could give advice to yourself 10 years ago, what would you say?

CARSTEN: Where to start…? Be confident, but never complacent. Ask yourself: are you really doing everything you could be doing?

JACKIE: What would you try for now if you knew you couldn’t fail?

CARSTEN: Not sure it would be worth doing in that case. Is it really “trying” if you know you won’t fail? And the trying is often the more fun. Case in point, theatre. The rehearsal period is often more rewarding than the production run. Probably shouldn’t be saying that publicly.

JACKIE: How did you start doing what you’re doing right now as a career?

CARSTEN: See answer 1 (playing a flying monkey). It’s sort of true, something clicked at that age even though I didn’t realize it until later. There was also an intervention of what I can only describe as fate before drama school, but as a profession? I got lucky pure and simple. I was doing my final graduation piece at drama school in an American accent. One of the people was a West End producer looking for someone my age to play a small American part in a newly discovered Noel Coward play. It was a huge cast of 26, really rare for the stage these days, and most were seasoned theatre actors. I probably learned more about the craft watching them for 6 months than during all of drama school. From there I went on to work with the director a few times, and also ended up doing theatre for the next few years.

JACKIE: When do you feel the most YOU?

CARSTEN: When I’m working. Besides that, when I’m in the presence of animals or children.

JACKIE: If you had a completely open day with no obligations, how would you spend it?

CARSTEN: When my dog was alive, those were the days for looooong walks. These days, alas, either going down a google hole or cleaning.

JACKIE: Self-care: do you practice it? If so, what are your favorite ways to take care of yourself from the inside out?

CARSTEN: See 4. Also, baths, though they work from the outside in.

JACKIE: Dream travel destination: what is it, why, and have you been?

CARSTEN: For 30 years, it’s been Japan, because I felt some magical personal affinity with the country and culture, and I JUST GOT TO GO!!!

JACKIE: Lastly, tell me what you’re working on and where we can find you!

CARSTEN: Not currently working on anything, just traveling on a round the world ticket. But I’ve been blessed with work this year. Roles I’ve played this year on productions due to come out were a doting father of two headstrong daughters, CIA agent, 1940s ‘degenerate’ German artist in captivity, and a cop married to his job. I’ve also been working on setting up a production company which should hopefully go live at the beginning of 2019.

www.carstenhayes.com

Instagram: @henceassatyr

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Camille Chen - Starting with a Super Star by Jacqueline Patton

It’s a week into January and I haven’t really started assessing my “resolutions” for the year. I do have goals for this year, but I think they’re more part of a process of trusting putting one foot in front of the other and not worrying so much about the outcome. That’s hard for a control freak like me. But growing is stretching. As someone who makes a living making and taking photographs, I sometimes wonder where some parts of my work fit into a business category. But I’ve decided that I’m not worried about creating a “brand” or figuring out a label on whatever this all is. Editorial? Commercial? Headshots? I wanted to make a space where we can explore the photos, and then look behind them a bit. And to create a place where not only I can share my work, but other artists can share who they are, too. A portrait is a collaboration; who they are is just as important as what I capture visually. At least to me it is.

On this blog I’ll also be trying really really hard to post some other personal work and thoughts…#goals…stay tuned on that. I’m using this space to just put out work that feels honest and I don’t feel like categorizing or marketing in any specific way. It can be messy. And that’s totally OK.

For the very first of this series of blog posts, I am starting with a real superstar. I like to hear people’s real stories. Everyone’s journey started somewhere, and until you stop breathing, the journey is still in process. I happen to take photos for a living (which still blows my mind). But I like to know more about what’s behind the image. I want to know what you order at a restaurant. And what you talk about to yourself when you’re driving alone (other people do that, right?).

And now onto Camille!

Camille Chen is a powerhouse, and also happens to be one of the most generous, sweet people I’ve met (and is also a karaoke badass). And I haven’t yet mentioned her immense talent as an actress because I don’t even know how to describe it in words. This girl was born to perform. You’ve seen her in almost every genre of TV Commercial you can imagine, and all over the small and big screens. Grey’s Anatomy, Game Night, Law & Order, Californication, American Horror Story…the list goes on forever. She’s everywhere, and she should be. When I met Camille, we were both living in NYC. Lucky for me, we both now live in LA and when she’s not on set and I’m not picking up a kid from somewhere or on a flight, we at least talk about trying to get together. ;) I asked her a few questions and you can read her interview below. Enjoy! XO

(To see more images from our shoot, click HERE)

JACKIE: What was your very first job?

CAMILLE: Well, technically my first job was in my mom's flower shop. Starting age 9 or 10, I would go every day after school and bill clients, answer the phone and take orders, run credit cards, sweep/clean up, etc. But I wasn't getting paid! LOL. My first "real" job was at 15 years old, I was a hostess at Chili's. Best job ever! I was 100% paralleling the life of the hostess in that movie WAITING. ;)

JACKIE: What do you do within the first 10 minutes of waking up? Do you have a ritual/routine?

CAMILLE: Unfortunately, I grab my phone and get on social media and read the news. I need to break that habit. I'd LIKE to wake up and meditate, that's a goal for 2019. Then, my husband walks our dogs and I make breakfast. I have to eat breakfast. I always have a big meal, usually eggs scrambled with veggies topped with avocado. And coffee. MUST HAVE COFFEE.

JACKIE: What’s one lesson this past year has taught you?

CAMILLE: I can't control everything! Crazy, right?? And not to take it so personally or as a personal defeat if things don't go my way. There's only so much I can do, and there's way more that I have zero control over. 

JACKIE: When you feel creatively drained or up against a wall, what’s something you do to break through it?

CAMILLE: I volunteer. I love volunteering. For some reason it opens me up, makes me realize that there's so much more to life than ME. I head mentored for Young Storytellers this past session (I've mentored before and performed in a bunch of shows), and I also volunteer with Project Angel Food.

JACKIE: What’s your favorite thing for dinner?

CAMILLE: I love all foods. It depends on what mood I'm in. But, if I HAD to pick, I would say Taiwanese food. Braised ground pork over white rice is one of my absolute faves. There's a restaurant in Los Feliz called Pine & Crane and the food tastes like my grandma made it.

JACKIE: If you could give advice to yourself 10 years ago, what would you say?

CAMILLE: SLOW DOWN. 

JACKIE: What would you try for NOW if you knew you couldn’t fail?

CAMILLE: Audition for a Broadway musical.

JACKIE: How did you start doing what you’re doing right now as a career?

CAMILLE: I started in choir in high school, which led me to the annual musical during my Senior year, which led me to theater in college!

JACKIE: When do you feel the most YOU?

CAMILLE: When I'm with my closest friends, cooking a lavish meal for them in my amazing kitchen (thanks HGTV!).

JACKIE: If you had a completely open day with no obligations, how would you spend it?

CAMILLE: I would have an amazing breakfast, go on an epic hike with my dogs and husband and stepdaughters, cook an incredible dinner, play board games with the family (and win), watch a movie while eating homemade popcorn with garlic infused olive oil and s&p.

JACKIE: Self-care – do you practice it? If so, what are your favorite ways to take care of yourself from the inside out?

CAMILLE: I love exercising, and meditating when I get around to it!

JACKIE: Dream travel destination: what is it, why, and have you been??!

CAMILLE: I love Paris, I've been a few times. I love the food, the culture, the walking. the people. I also speak French and I think it's cool to be able to adapt to different world. I've never been to South Africa, and I've been dying to go on safari in Kruger National Park!

JACKIE: Can you tell me what you are working on currently? 

CAMILLE: I've been recurring on SINGLE PARENTS, and I did an episode of GOD FRIENDED ME on CBS…also an episode of DRUNK HISTORY that airs in February! 

IG: @thatasianactress

www.camillechen.com

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