riding bitch

The life of a writer and survivor of loss.


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On Flow and Foundation

It’s been a busy month, lots of writing, reading and thinking, the latter mostly about the future. I feel as if on the edge of a precipice, or a bridge, poised to cross over into a new life that is very slowly coming into focus, like a landscape under a receding fog.

Hudson River view

That the future isn’t exactly in focus sometimes scares the living daylights out of me. I don’t do well with unknowns, never have. But the uncomfortableness gives me the chance to practice my new resolve: to have faith, to plan ahead, to be patient (not expect everything to fall into place overnight and then get discouraged when it doesn’t), and, most importantly, to be present and appreciate the Now.

If my posts are becoming redundant with this sentiment, it’s because this period is so intensely about learning to appreciate life again, that is, to feel happiness and joy in the simplest of pleasures, and not just when things are going well. It’s when life isn’t going well that it’s the most challenging to keep that sense of gratitude and inner peace. That is the core of what I’m after, and what I’m trying to practice here, every day.

Oak Hill flats6

It’s funny how life sometimes throws things in your path that are just what you need in the moment. In my monthly book group here, someone recently suggested we read a novel called the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami.

At first it felt a little daunting (it’s 607 pages of small print), but after a while, I couldn’t put it down. Besides being a great mystery and window into Japanese culture and history, the story felt almost like a philosophical manifesto on “flow”: when life is in flow, when it is out of flow, and when there is no flow at all, like at the bottom of a dry well.

Spring creek

For most of the story, the main character is dealing with several losses, in a state of confusion and passive. He lets things happen to him, instead of making them happen.

But he’s actually not entirely passive. Rather, he is consciously going with the flow… allowing people to come in and out of his life, listening and observing everything closely, not resisting his emotions but allowing them to be, while all the while acknowledging that his emotions aren’t him. He also spends time confronting his greatest fears (and regulating his breathing) in a solitary place, where he sometimes cannot distinguish between his imagination and reality. But by doing these things, he finds his way back to his true self, and regains the necessary strength and self-determination to take action.

Needless to say, I related to it very much.

Oak Hill flats4 Oak Hill flats5

I have written before about how loss shakes our foundation and changes us. It’s not just the loss itself, it’s how we deal with it years later, how we process and are reborn from the devastation. After loss, there is no going back, not to the person we lost, not to the life we used to lead or the person we used to be. And so we struggle to find ourselves again, and regain our footing in the new world, our new future.

This is how I feel about this period in upstate New York. Here, among the mountains, changing seasons, animals, insects, plants and endless creeks, lakes and rivers, I am both regaining my emotional, spiritual and physical foundation, and learning to go with the flow, not in some esoteric way, but literally shifting my approach to life.

I don’t mind that it’s taking some time. It should take time. This is the foundation on which the rest of my life will rest.

Creek feet


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Seeing the Stars at Night

It’s funny how life turns out. I never thought I’d be living in the country. I’ve always been a city girl, the kind that screams at the sight of a roach, and jumps on the furniture at the sight of a mouse. On our one and only camping trip, Kaz found it amusing how paranoid I was in the tent at night. “What’s that? Did you hear something? Is there something in the sleeping bag with us?”

And yet, I was always trying to get us out of the city. To Joshua Tree, to Santa Barbara, to the coast, anywhere but inside the urban jungle. 10306074_10153212167690930_8118499099981483930_n When he was sick, and especially when he got depressed, one of my most frequent questions was: “Why don’t you sit outside?” “And do what?” he’d respond. “Just feel the sun on your face, the wind, listen to the birds, breathe some fresh air. It’s good for you!” But sitting outside on Hollywood Boulevard wasn’t his thing. I don’t blame him.

I often think of him now and wonder what he would say about my current life, if he would have been willing to make this kind of move to the country (probably not, his work was in the city), if it would have even occurred to us (again, probably not). 11150378_10153212167250930_9164052667769912565_n I know he would have loved the roads around here, which are perfect for motorcycle riding. He probably wouldn’t have liked the winters. But I think he might have liked the solitude. He was kind of a loner, or at least a homebody. He liked being at home, playing his video games, watching television, relaxing. He would have enjoyed how much I cook here.

Who knows. He might have been surprised by how well I’ve adapted to the solitude because I was always the social one. I still am, but in smaller spurts. Ironically, I relate to his homebody-style more now than before. 10421348_10153212167615930_3991056468008253707_n It’s hard to describe how much I love living in the country. It’s not perfect. I do miss certain things about the city, but on a day-to-day basis, I feel more content than I have since Kaz was alive.

As I write this post (the original by longhand on a yellow legal pad), I am sitting in the backyard on a weathered metal rocking chair that has a cotton cushion. I’ve sat on this chair all through winter. I call it my “outside office.”

The sun is out. It’s in the 60’s. The clouds are mere wisps. There is a strong breeze blowing, and a family of black flies buzzing around me. In the distance, the flowers that line the edges of the house have just begun to bloom. 11156179_10153212166650930_8998367947681788918_nRuby is lying nearby in the grass, her eyes half-open in that way dogs do when relaxing in the sun. This morning she was sniffing all over the yard instead of the usual stick-fetching, and I was reading a book. It was peaceful, both of us doing our own thing, occasionally looking up to check on the other. 11146263_10153212319680930_3791173026327755806_n Some people don’t want to deal with flies or dirt (which is unavoidable in the country), the wind, the quiet, and so on, just like some people prefer air conditioning to open windows in cars (I’ve always been the latter).

Apparently, there’s such a thing as Ecotherapy, which is literally contact with Nature, and it’s becoming more important as the world grows more populated and the environment continues to deteriorate. This article in the Washington Post discusses concerns that health officials have about how people in the future are going to get enough (unpolluted) nature to stay healthy. “The World Health Organization predicts that 70 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas within 30 years.”

If I’m still here in 30 years, I’m pretty sure I won’t be one of those people. I like seeing the stars at night. 10360203_10153212167320930_1901981881794809668_n


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Going Back to Cali, Cali

The next time I post, I will be in Los Angeles again. I’m going for a 10-day visit, at the end of which I’m participating in a 3-day writer’s conference and speaking on a panel about Writing About Loss. Before I leave, I’m being interviewed on HuffingtonPost Live (tomorrow, Thursday, March 19 at 4:00pm ET). Needless to say, it’s a very busy time, and I’m more than a little stressed.

I’m excited to go back to Los Angeles, but also nervous. When I tell people this, they don’t understand why. I’m not sure I totally understand either. I did live there for 19 years. But there’s something about going back to a place you’ve left.

Part of me is nervous that once I’m there, I’ll regret having left, like I’ll be walking (driving) around feeling homesick the whole time.

Another part of me is anxious about being asked the same questions over and over again: “How’s it going in NY? How do you like it? Are you glad you left? Are you coming back?”

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that just the thought of being in such a big city, dealing with that traffic, makes my stomach tighten a little. I’ve basically been living in the woods for the past eight months — in a quiet, zero traffic, distraction-free, practically people-free zone. I’ve been in “writing mode,” which is a lot different than “meet and greet and speak publicly mode.” Yes, I’ve been to NYC periodically, but I stay with family in Brooklyn and tend to keep my activities local.

Another source of nerves (and emotions) is that being in Los Angeles will remind me of Kaz in a way that I haven’t experienced in a while. Living in NY, where Kaz and I never visited together and therefore shared no memories of, has been a sort of respite from all the emotional triggers that come with familiar sites in a shared geographical location. I know I will be alright, but it’s the not knowing where and when I will encounter these triggers that makes my nervous.

Finally, my heart aches at leaving Ruby behind (it was too complicated and expensive to bring her). I’ve never been away from her for this long, and am already feeling the longing. She’ll be staying with family and going to doggie daycare during the day, so we’ll both be busy. But it will be strange to be apart. Our days upstate are, if nothing else, an exercise in routine. Everything happens around the same time every day. We’re nearly always together, and she is nearly always off leash, running free.

All that said, I am looking forward to the trip, to seeing all my friends, feeling heat, going to the beach, meeting many other talented writers, getting as much done as possible, visiting the mountain where I released Kaz’s ashes and more.

A lot has happened since I left Los Angeles. Maybe going back will remind me of how far I’ve come. Maybe it will remind me why I left.

Ironically, this will be my first time visiting Los Angeles. I will miss upstate NY, but I’ll be back soon.

Looking forward to sharing the journey with you, as always. xo

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Feeding Your Soul

Sometimes bad things happen out of the blue and stop us in our tracks. Other times, we may find ourselves in situations that feel like they’re slowly eating away at the core of who we are. In either case, the hurt and pain makes the world seem different, uninspiring, devoid of meaning, unfair and cruel. We lose our sense of purpose, our will to continue. We think to ourselves, what’s the point of anything? What’s the point of me?

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And then… one day, weeks, months or even years after our pain began… something or someone causes us snap out of it momentarily. It can be almost anything. A piece of music, a kind gesture from a friend or stranger, a ray of light filtered through the trees, the sound of birds chirping, a memory, a line of dialogue, a smell, an animal, a joke, a dream, a piece of art… anything.

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In that moment of inspiration, we suddenly remember the other side of life: beauty, love, joy, laughter, goodness, grace.

At first, we might resent that these things still exist when our pain is so deep. We might resent that the world continues to turn while we feel dead inside.

But another part of us cries out, possibly a meek voice that requires a special type of listening. The voice of our soul, which has been long neglected and patiently waiting in the darkness.

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In that moment, our soul peeks out from behind the curtain shrouding our heart and turns up to the sunshine of inspiration.

Like the first daylight after a storm, it feels a fleeting sense of hope again. If it happened once, maybe it can happen again.

Our soul urges us to find more inspiration, for it is hungry.

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For the first time in a while, we do something that seems so simple but actually requires a bit more energy… we notice things. We allow ourselves to feel and observe and enjoy the world around us.  And each time we encounter another moment of inspiration, we grow stronger.

We grow stronger because we are feeding our soul.

Our souls are individual. What feeds your soul might not feed another’s. But feeding it is essential.

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What feeds your soul? What inspires you?


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The Solitary Life

It’s been thirty-eight days since I arrived in upstate New York, and so far it’s exactly how I imagined it would be: gorgeous, quiet, clean and solitary. Several people have asked how I can possibly like being alone all the time. “I would go insane,” they tell me. “How do you manage not to?” (some visual clues at the bottom of this post)

First of all, I am not entirely alone because I have a dog.

Secondly, I’m not entirely alone because I take walks and pass by neighbors (everyone waves to each other up here), and sometimes we even strike up conversations. I also get out of the house for errands, events, meetings and socializing with new and old friends in the area. So far, I’ve been to a brunch, an Oktoberfest party, a lecture, a business meeting, two book club gatherings and an afternoon of apple picking, which was a lot of fun.

Thirdly, I’m not entirely alone because I go to New York City (aka “the city”) every few weeks to be with family, friends and colleagues. Soon, I’ll be venturing to New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. to see more people. These weekend trips are wonderful for many reasons, not the least of which is they keep me on my toes. Driving in New York City is no joke.

All that said… I am definitely alone most of the time. Here are a few reasons why it doesn’t bother me.

I’m writing. When I’m not writing, I’m reading. When I’m not writing or reading, I’m checking social media, riding my motorcycle, cooking, walking, watching television, sleeping or, like previously mentioned out and about, in and out of the city and so on.

My daily schedule is broken down into blocks of time that start at 4:30 a.m. and end around 9:00 p.m. The 4:30-7:30 a.m. block is what a friend and I have dubbed the Plath Hours, after Sylvia Plath’s habit of working between four and eight in the morning, before her children woke up. We actually check in with each other via Twitter with the hashtag #plathhours. Feel free to join us if you’re interested. We don’t do it every day. Actually, the past few days, I’ve been writing at night instead of the morning. We dubbed the night writing hours #poehours.

My schedule includes a total of nine hours of writing time every week day, but I’m not writing the entire nine hours. I’m also checking email, social media, doing research, keeping up with my Modern Loss editing, and reading online journals. The point is, I’m at my computer working, with little to no distractions.

The rest of the day is broken up between playing with Ruby and regular day-to-day activities. We spend roughly three-four hours per day outside – rain or shine. I use this time to read and exercise (I’ve done both in the rain). Ruby plays fetch, chews her sticks, and explores the vast and many mysteries in the backyard. Afterwards, she sleeps under my writing desk on a bunch of pillows (rough life, I know.)

At 4:30 p.m., if I have errands to run, this is when I ride the motorcycle. Luckily, it’s still warm enough to ride. If I don’t have errands, Ruby and I walk to a nearby creek. She’s recently befriended a beautiful Doberman who lives at a farm along the way, and now he follows us to the creek. The dogs end up swimming, wrestling over sticks, and chasing squirrels and chipmunks. I’m not sure how we’ll keep up this routine when it gets cold, but I’ve thought about taking up cross-country skiing as a way to stay warm and still be outside.

A friend recently teased me that I’m living “a monk’s life.” It’s not as severe as that, but he has a point. It would definitely be nice to balance this solitary life with human company at the end of the day. I sometimes wonder what life would be like if/when I live with someone again. I’m pretty sure I will still spend a lot of time alone, in my office, with the dog at my feet.

I guess what I’m saying is that I see this lifestyle continuing on some level. Maybe I won’t live in the countryside, or maybe I’ll live part-time in the countryside. Either way, I plan to always have a place where I can be alone in a quiet, private atmosphere, and hopefully a fireplace or wood burning stove.

For now, I’m okay with things the way they are. Most of my energy is going into my work, which fulfills me in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time.

When people ask me how I like this new solitary, country life, I just smile. “It’s good for the soul.” It’s also producing results. More on that later.

woods Ruby on road to creek Ruby and Bronson2 ruby and bronson moto vista creek4 creek3 creek 2 creek happy me


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Slowing Down

Greetings from Portland, Oregon. I just cruised into this city last night and am excited to check it out. So far, the road trip has been an absolute joy. The only negative – and it’s hardly a negative – is that it’s taking longer than I anticipated. This is partly because I’m traveling with a dog and need to stop to let her do her business (and run around). And partly because there’s so much beauty that I keep stopping to take pictures.

Slowing down isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, this is one of many differences between this road trip and the one I did in the opposite direction 19 years ago. Back then, I had to be in LA by a certain date for the beginning of grad school. Today, I have no such deadline. My schedule is completely up to me. Which is not to say that I want to be on the road forever, or arrive at my destination a month from now. I simply don’t have to rush. 

For example, when I saw a sign for Lagoon Lake north of Eureka, California, I pulled off the road and drove down a hill to discover this practically empty beach.

Eureka beachEureka beach2Beach north of EurekaBeach north of Eureka2

 

In Redwood National Park, I drove 34 miles in and out of the park just to see this view.

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I pulled over again for this beach, which took my breath away when I saw it from the road.

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Several people told me I couldn’t leave Oregon without seeing Crater Lake, so I drove a few hours roundtrip to check it out. It was created thousands (millions?) of years ago when the volcano erupted, blowing the top of the mountain off. Over time, the crater filled with water from rain and snow melt. The little island you see in the middle is apparently a new mini-volcano growing within the old one. One day, maybe millions of years from now, it, too, will blow. 

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Someone also suggested I check out Florence, a tiny fishing village on the Oregon coast, and the nearby dunes. This is what we did just before driving to Portland. 

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Oregon dune2So, yeah, I’m slowing down and soaking it in. I know there is much more ahead, and many unknowns at my final destination, but I’m trying to stay focused on the here and now. I want to always remember this trip, these images, the sounds, the energy of each place I visit. 

It feels like a luxury to slow down, but really, it’s simple. You don’t even have to leave home to do it.

When was the last time you slowed down?

 

 

 


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What’s New

It’s been a while. I won’t use the excuse that I’ve been busy because you’re all busy too and keep blogging. I will say that I took a freelance writing seminar in late March that sort of rocked my world, in a good way. In no particular order, these are some changes I’ve made in the past six weeks since the seminar (and last blog post):

New Routine

I now wake up at 6:00 or 5:30 a.m. and write until 7:00 a.m, every week day. I don’t always write, sometimes I just stare at the computer and think about writing. But things I definitely do NOT do are: 1) check my email or get on the internet, 2) clean the apartment, 3) pay bills or do anything administrative, 4) wash the dishes, 5) check my phone. This time in the morning is my sacred hour, when everyone, including the dog, is asleep and quiet. I love it.

Another change is that I no longer sleep with the phone (and alarm clock) next to my bed. The phone sleeps in the kitchen, so when the alarm goes off at dawn, I have to get out of bed to turn it off. There have been a few mornings when I’ve stumbled back to bed. But after staring at the ceiling for a few minutes, I got up to write.

Besides more/better writing time, I naturally wake up earlier now, even on days off. I’m more punctual to work. I feel more satisfied with my day because, even if I get nothing else creative done, at least I’ve had this hour. I watch less television and go out less during the week. On more than one occasion I’ve used “I have to be in bed by a certain hour” as a reason to decline evening invitations.

New Diet

At the writing seminar, I was asked to choose “a personal experiment I’d like to try for 30 to 365 days.” I chose not drinking, not spending money, and not over-eating. The day after the seminar, I quit drinking alcohol.

I honestly didn’t know if I could do it. I’d been drinking either a few beers or half a bottle of wine almost every night.  I’m not exagerating when I say that not having alcohol in the house used to make me antsy. The thought of not drinking really scared me, and the first week was tough. Tougher still are social engagements like going out to dinner or a party. The thought of going to brunch this weekend and not having a mimosa makes me sad. I miss drinking socially more than anything. On the other hand, I like being more present and less groggy.  I think it’s made waking up early a little easier. Originally, I’d given myself a 30 day limit. It’s been 37 days now. I’m not saying I’ll never drink again, but for now, I’m going to keep refraining.

As an experiment, I also decided to cut out sugar, and more recently wheat, dairy and caffeine. Again, very scary (especially caffeine). I’m now eating mostly protein, vegetables, fruits and nuts and drinking water or tea, occasionally a non-alcoholic beer. Like alcohol, I thought I couldn’t live without caffeine, but the weird thing is I actually feel more awake and energetic. I’m also less moody. I’ve heard people say these things before, but when you start feeling them yourself, it’s a bit of a revelation.

Oh, one last benefit of not drinking alcohol: it saves money.

New Social Media 

Not as important as routine and diet, but still relevant – I’ve started to be more active on Twitter (@nivaladiva) and less active on Facebook. Twitter was a challenge to figure out (I’m still figuring it out), but what I’ve learned so far is that engagement is key, as is providing information and not being afraid to voice your opinions about things that matter to you. You can learn a lot from the news feeds and other people, including job opportunities. I know people who have landed jobs that they learned about on Twitter. It’s not all about following celebrities.

New Toy

I bought a Suzuki s40 Boulevard motorcycle. More on that in another post.

New Work

No, I haven’t quit my job (yet), but I am revving up the freelance writing. Just this week I sent out my very first pitches to two publications. Working on the next set of pitches now. Feels both scary and exciting to put myself out there, but I’m determined to forge a writing career in more markets than just film & television.

New Travel

I took a few days off from work around Easter to visit family in the Bay area. Good practice for road tripping with Ruby at a later date. One thing about traveling with a dog, you end up spending a lot more time outdoors.

Not sure what this is, but looks like a huge "N" to me (Crissy Field, San Francisco)

Not sure what this is, but looks like a huge “N” to me (San Francisco, CA)

Ruby meeting the Golden Gate Bridge (Crissy Field)

Ruby meeting the Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco, CA)

Meadow in Redwood Regional Park (Oakland)

Meadow in Redwood Regional Park (Oakland, CA)

Redwoods in Redwood Regional Park

Redwoods in Redwood Regional Park (Oakland, CA)

Bench in Cesar Chavez Park (Berkeley, CA)

Bench in Cesar Chavez Park (Berkeley, CA)

Close-up of bench

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature. Life is a daring adventure or nothing.”             – Helen Keller

Ruby and her sunset (101 Freeway rest stop)

Ruby and her sunset (101 Freeway rest stop)

 

 What’s new with you?

 

 

 


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Love Life (Photo)

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Just found this photo from two years ago when I did the Brain Tumor Walk in Orange County, CA, in honor of Kaz and others. We walked 5K and raised thousands of dollars for brain tumor research. It was an inspiring day with lots of shared stories, embraces and tears. There were also lots of signs. This one was my favorite.


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Digital Media Marketing – an interview with Melissa Watson Coetzee

Today’s post expands on the topic of Digital Media Marketing. Our guest is Melissa Watson Coetzee, an American woman who studied Communications Curation and Criticism of Art and Design at Central Saint Martins in London, where she lived for 5 years before moving back to America. Now she is the President of the West Coast Chapter of her Alumni Association in LA, works with a theater publishing company as their Digital Media Editor/Curator and organizes events, conferences and festivals.

Let’s start with the basics. How would you describe Digital Media Marketing to someone who just walked out of the woods and had no idea what it is?

If I had to describe Digital Media Marketing in its simplest form I would say it is marketing done in a digital format – which means the option to market your business and connect with your target demographic all without the use of print. It’s about saving the trees really. You can be cost effective and go green all at the same time.

How does DMM relate to blogging?  What’s the relationship between the two?

A blog represents different things to different people and organizations. For some people it’s their creative outlet, they have no intention in making money with it. They just use it as a form of expression. In some situations the blog is the hub of their online community. In this instance all of their social platforms will point back to their blog because that is their main platform. For some people a blog is incorporated as an element of a website as a way to increase SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and communicate with their audience. It all depends on how you want to approach it and what your desired outcome is. Everyone has different reasons for putting themselves out there.

Do you think artists need to promote themselves in addition to their work?

If in your practice, whatever that may be, you want to make money, then you need a business plan, and in that business plan there should be a strategic outreach and marketing plan. Part of that marketing plan should be social media promotion. With social media you really have the opportunity to show the “human” side of your business; to show the person behind the work, creating the opportunity for  people to feel they are supporting a person not just a business entity.

What do you think makes a good blog?

A good blog is one that has a purpose and commits to that purpose. It acknowledges its readership, is loyal to them, and updates consistently.

I like that you can learn about anything anytime online. If you have a topic in mind there is probably a blog about it. Now you have to take the information with a grain of salt because it is not vetted through an editor of fact checker (depending on the blog). The point being is that through digital media people who would not meet in their day to day lives are able to connect and communicate with other likeminded individuals. This has created opportunities for an open source platform where people connect from across the globe on a topic and all contribute their own ingenuity and perspective towards its development.

Have you ever blogged for others? If so, how was that experience different than blogging for yourself?

When you ghost blog you have to be very clear on the tone of the blog and who you are communicating to. Just like when writing for a newspaper or magazine there needs to be very clear style guidelines. My website (www.CreativelyInformed.com) has had many incarnations over the years but the name has always stayed the same. It is important when you are a freelancer to have a web presence. I might feel as though I didn’t quite exist or be taken seriously if I didn’t know how to manage a website. It would be like being an expert mechanic and not driving in your day to day life. You really have to know your craft if you want to be taken seriously, and demonstrate that you are on top of the ever evolving game.

What do you do now and how does DMM factor in?

When I moved to Los Angeles after college, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do but I knew I needed a job and quick. I had previous experience in web development and a background in marketing so I made a presentation of how social media can and does affect small businesses and started pitching to various companies. Eventually, I landed a job at FootLights Publishing Inc. and the rest, as they say, is history.

At the moment, I work with lamart.com and digital media is my preferred marketing platform. It’s more cost effective than print and in this economy trying to get money for marketing is like getting blood from a stone. People don’t have the money to spend they once did and so they have to be strategic about where they spend the little money they do have. With digital media marketing you get the instant gratification you are looking for, it is easy to monitor and track your ads, and you can build and audience quickly and relatively inexpensively.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

I wish I had the answer to that — oh wait, no I don’t. I don’t think life is meant to be all planned out.  I am excited about the next step in my life, but life moves so fast I am doing my best to live in the moment. The next 5 -10 years will come quickly enough and take care of themselves. I do want to focus my professional development on community engagement digitally as well as in the “real” world. I am very interested in different cultures and how they interact, but in the end we are all very much the same.

This is why I created the Global Photo Project at www.creativelyinformed.com. This photo project tracks the festivals and community gatherings around the globe. It started as a one year project but has moved onto something I will do as an annual exhibition.

This project is not about photography but is more about documenting days in our lives that mean the most to us and it just happens that many of those days are the days in which we engage with our communities, whatever those may be. I would really like to see digital media tear down cultural and logistical barriers but that is in the grand scheme things. Social Media really leveled the playing field for people to be more independent and support their own independent businesses and reach their target audiences in a way they could not do before.

Where do you see DMM in the next 5-10 years?

That is up for the people to decide. It is here now, and is not going anywhere. Platforms will come and go but we all live online now so there is no avoiding it. My hope is that digital media functions as a platform for social consciousness, as a way for us to see the world as a whole and not be so separated. I love the concept of open source development and I hope through having the capacity to connect digitally that we can connect more openly and inter-culturally. It is fitting that this is posted today Dec 21 2012 because this really is the dawning of a new age.

You recently got married. Did you incorporate social media into your wedding?  

I actually did my best to keep my wedding off of social media. The only images of my wedding on Facebook were placed there by the photographer (who is a friend of mine). I in no way wanted my wedding to be added marketing/advertising for the vendors. Some things are private family affairs in my book. Other people feel differently and live their lives open on the web and I say more power to them, it just was not my path.

Last thoughts/advice for the readers?

There is still a thing such as privacy. If you don’t want anybody to know about it, then don’t put it online. Even if you think you have optimized your permissions, or have kept it anonymous. Your digital footprint lasts forever so make it a footprint you want everyone (even your mother) to see.

Thank you for being the first interview on Riding Bitch Blog.

Thank you for inviting me! I’m excited to see how your journey and blog develops.

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If you have any questions for Melissa, feel free to leave them below.