The Butler: How A Little Gumption Can Change the World

It can also land you some seriously awesome candy…

dreams come true

Have you see Lee Daniels’ The Butler? If not, I highly recommend it. While many movies quickly blur into the background of our busy lives, The Butler is one I doubt I’ll forget. Multiple film websites describe it as “the story of a White House butler who served eight American presidents over three decades…from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond, and how those changes affected this man’s life and family.” I would’ve described it differently. What struck me most about the mostly true story wasn’t the impact history-in-the-making had on one man and his kin, but the impact one person can have on the world.

From childhood on, the main character Cecil Gaines (played by Forest Whitaker) makes bold decisions to better his life and his family’s. Over time, these decisions, paired with his primo integrity and work ethic, have a positive impact on countless others—including numerous presidents. He meanwhile raises two sons who contribute to the world in very different, important ways.

I don’t want to spoil the film for those who haven’t seen it, so instead I’m going to talk about one of its central themes (IMO): GUMPTION. 

After seeing The Butler, I thought back to the first time I recall demonstrating gumption. I was five or six years old and really wanted some candy. (I never said it was noble! LOL) It was the middle of a hot, sticky summer in Minnesota and I knew that “Old Man Charlie” who lived at the end of our street had lots of sweets; I’d seen him nibbling from a candy dish on his porch many times. So that day, I walked straight up to his door and rang his bell. When he appeared, I politely asked for a piece. He barely said a word. In fact, I think he just mumbled and shook his head, shooing me off with his hand.

Not fair! Okay, maybe it was. But now I wanted candy even more. After a few frustrated moments, I had an idea.

Rather than seek alternate remedies for my sugar cravings, I rushed home and donned a Halloween costume. Suited up like Bozo-ette the clown, I marched back to Charlie’s door. When he opened it, I yelped, “Trick or treat!” He gave me a strange look, laughed and then handed me a full bag of candy.

That memory has always stuck with me—because it’s so darn goofy, I’ve figured. But perhaps there’s another reason. The experience taught me important lessons, which I’ve been applying somewhat routinely since: It never hurts to ask and taking initiative eventually pays off. If we persevere, we just might gain far more than we’d hoped for.

I’m sure that my heart pounded a bit as I walked up to Old Charlie’s door; he wasn’t exactly the warm and fuzzy type. I’m also fairly certain that the candy tasted better, knowing that I’d strategized and worked for it. In other words, fear shouldn’t hold us back, and hardship might make the rewards sweeter.

The same applies to loftier pursuits. No matter what our age, gumption can change the world. I sincerely believe that. It’s what motivates me to work my behinder off in my creative and social pursuits and do everything I can to make Girl Boner land an empowering, ever-expanding place. I also believe that we’re given passion for a reason, and that it’s our responsibility as capable human beings to act on it. I know I’m far from alone in these compulsions habits and beliefs… And while they may seem fairly basic, I think we can all use the occasional reminder. I’m grateful to The Butler for that.

When did you demonstrate gusto as a kid? How about lately? Any plans to act on dreams in the future? Who’s the most gumptious (totally made that word up) person you know? I love hearing your thoughts. ♥

Empowering Facts About Beauty: A #BOAW Wrap-Up

Dior quote

If I had any doubt in Dior’s assertion before, the Beauty of A Woman Blog-Festers wiped it full out. I can’t express how grateful I am to everyone who participated. Your stories, remarks, interaction and exponential, far-reaching support lit up the blogosphere, inspiring thousands. If you haven’t yet done so, please give yourself a huge hug, tell yourself how freaking beautiful you are and know that you done GOOD! I hope you enjoyed it at least a tenth as much as I did.

Before the fest, I shared thoughts on Miss Representation, a powerful documentary that explores the media’s portrayal of women. The starting statistics I posted struck me as sad, eye-opening and motivating. We can’t make positive changes if we fail to recognize the problems, or take pride in the differences we’re making (by for example, telling stories) if we’re unaware of their significance.

Fueled up with gratitude, I’ve decided to highlight positive facts regarding beauty today. Rather than see the glass as half full or empty, I prefer to consider it no longer empty, and rich with potential. Focusing on uplifting facts and positive changes underway instills hope. Without hope, there’s no glass at all.


5 Empowering Facts About Inner/Outer Beauty

1. Happiness breeds beauty. Happiness makes us vibrant inside and out. “When you’re happy your skin will appear healthier, and your hair and nails can actually grow faster,” says dermatologist Richard Fried, M.D., Ph.D. Positive folks also tend to stand taller, he says, and take greater measures of self-care. Studies have also shown that emotional fulfillment and confidence make us more attractive to ourselves and others. So happy people are not only more kind, energetic and grateful, but hot!

2. R&R beautifies. Spa days, vacations and therapy  arguably go further than makeup or chic clothes in terms of beautifying. Stress contributes to everything from low-moods and relationship turmoil to skin problems and unhealthy weight shifts (gains and losses). Real beauty, as so many blog-festers pointed out, relates to personal spirit, gratitude and inviduality. Don’t let stress taint those.

3. Self-acceptance increases sexual satisfaction, making way for increased attractiveness.  Multiple studies indicate that embracing our bodies as they are enhances sexual desire, ability and pleasure. A happy sex life facilitates inner and outer beauty in various ways, by reducing stress, increasing that healthy post-sex “glow,” boosting energy and improving hormone levels.

4. Smiling helps us feel and appear lovelier. “When you smile, even if you’re upset, it feeds the brain signals that make you feel more positive,” explains Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a happiness researcher at the University of California, Riverside. People who appear happy are more likely to be perceived as beautiful by others, according to her research, and exhibit happiness physically, which cultivates more of both.

5. People are standing up for real beauty and speaking out against demeaning media. And there’s tremendous power in numbers. Over 87,500 people have signed the Miss Representation pledge, supporting fair, empowering media. All over the world, people are tweeting harmful media, using the hashtag #NOTBUYINGIT—and you can, too. Our voices can be heard. What’s yours saying?


We teach and attract what we believe and reflect.

Last but not least, the winner of a Kindle Fire or Amazon equivalent gift card is…. *drum roll* Jess Witkins! If you missed her uplifting post on what makes a woman “REDHOT,” be sure to check it out. Congratulations, Jess!

How do you celebrate or perpetuate inner beauty? What makes you feel beautiful inside and out? Any highlights or thoughts to share on the fest? I love hearing from you, and am crazy grateful for your support. ♥

Women in the Media: Why Our Stories Count

I wasn’t sure if I would post twice this week, given President’s Day and the soon-coming Beauty of a Woman BlogFest. Then I saw Miss Representation, Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s poignant documentary on the media’s portrayal of women. The 2011 release left me heartbroken and hope-filled, and my teary eyes more fully open. It heightened my determination to keep writing and supporting artists and creative works that uplift women, rather than hold us back or beat us down.

Miss Representation cover

While I was somewhat familiar with its information, Miss Representation gave me perspective regarding facts and notions I’ve wondered about and believed—not simply about media or society, but my personal journey. I also appreciated the fact that the film depicted the misrepresentation of females not as a men versus women or conservatives versus liberals issue, but a human one; we all benefit from balanced, empowering media. If you haven’t seen it, I hope you will.

Startling facts and quotes from Miss Representation:

Women account for 51% of the population, yet hold only 3% of clout positions in telecommunications, entertainment, publishing and advertising. (This doesn’t necessarily make the content “wrong,” but imbalanced.)

“All of Hollywood is run on one assumption: That women will watch stories about men, but men won’t watch stories about women. It is a horrible indictment of our society of we assume that one half of our population is just not interested in the other half.” – Geena Davis

“Women and girls are the subject of less than 20% of news stories. “When a group is not featured in the media… it is called symbolic annhilation.” – Martha Lauzen, Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film

Miss Representation 2

The number of cosmetic surgical procedures performed on youth 18 or younger more than tripled from 1997 to 2007.

Among youth 18 and younger, liposuction nearly quadrupled between 1997 and 2007 and breast augmentations increased nearly six-fold in the same 10-year period.

65% of American girls and women have reported disordered eating behaviors. (As a side note, a similar percentage of American adults are obese—a direct consequence of media’s portrayal of “beauty,” and the $45 billion diet industry, in my opinion—which is supported by vast amounts of research. ;))

If you’re as heated up as I am over these matters, good. As Gloria Steinem famously said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” A little fire can go a long way…

Miss Representation quote KC

Miss Representation illustrates ways in which media can be both powerfully destructive and constructive. I don’t know about you, but Couric’s insight makes me want to join with like-minded others and put my pilot cap.

More than a film, Miss Representation is a campaign. Visit, where you can take a valuable pledge and order the documentary. Miss Representation is also available via Amazon Instant Video.

For more on women in film, check out Karina Wilson’s Lit Reactor article, Screenwriting: Insert Woman Here – Sidestepping the Sausage Fest. It’s an insightful must-read.

If I was excited for the Beauty of A WomanBlogFest II before, I’m excited-on-steroids now. I can’t wait to read participant’s posts as we explore and celebrate real beauty and the women who possess it. If you’d like to sign up, please do so by the end of the day Wednesday, February 20th by visiting BOAW. To participate as a reader, join us here this Friday.

Have you seen Miss Representation? Which of the facts most struck you? What are you willing to do to make media a more balanced, women-supportive place?

The Happy Manhood Operator

 ♦  “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” — Zig Ziglar   

Last week I shared how daydreaming helped make my aspirations of moving to Los Angeles come true. I imagined a whole lot, but never that my daydreamy attitude would lead to altitude of…other kinds.

One of my first acting jobs in L.A. was a European energy drink commercial. I played a grad student in a physiology course, studying a cadaver with a group of classmates. We shot it in a functioning morgue.

My scene’s premise: Before “Joe” became a cadaver, he’d consumed a GoFast energy drink. As I bent over the body in the purposely low-cut scrubs, Joe’s manhood gave my chest a firm salute. Yes, friends, GoFast energy drinks keep one excitable—even postmortem.

The star of the set, in my opinion, wasn’t me, the other actors or even Joe’s elevating manhood. It was the manhood operator.

I don’t remember the man’s name, but I recall his attitude. He not only operated but created the remote control penis, precisely for such purposes. He sat off camera, pushing buttons to stimulate the punchline fodder like a professional fisherman—awaiting the next nibble, activating when necessary. He didn’t laugh or blush or show off. He simply did his job, took pride in it but stayed humble, and was happy to answer a curious actress’s questions. (You’d be amazed at just how handy an erectile contraption can be in Tinseltown—and no, I’m not talking projects rated X.) In a word, he seemed grateful.

There were numerous complainers on set—understandable to a point; the place did smell of embalming fluid and who knows what else. And there were actual corpses on the premise. But Mr. Manhood Operator stayed pleasant. I know what some of you are thinking: How could a manhood operator not be happy? Well imagine sitting still in a stinky, weirdly lighted corpse-cooler for hours on end, waiting to push a button then being scolded for being a half-millisecond off. It’s not as sexy as it sounds.

When the day was done, Mr. Manhood Operator smiled, thanked us all and left—probably eager to spend time with his wife and grandkids I learned some about. Arguably the most crucial piece of that commercial’s puzzle gained the least amount of praise or glory. Hopefully he was paid well. I also hope he talks about his job at his grandkids’ school on career day. Regardless, the experience and his character have stuck with me.

As they say in theatrics, there are no small parts. I think the same holds true in our careers. Not all of our work will be glamourous, or even pleasant. But if we do what we love and love what we do, and keep our chins up and hearts open, we can go a long way. More importantly, we’ll better enjoy the journey.

Before writing this post, I hadn’t seen this video—yet another perk of blogging. Thanks to YouTube, I can welcome you to sit back and enjoy the show. Have a giggle and let it be a lesson to all: Do not walk or drive mindlessly. As for stimulant use, I’ll save that for another post. 😉

Who’s YOUR manhood operator?
Let me rephrase. 😉 Have you encountered someone with an odd or unpleasant job who knocks it out of the park positivity-wise? Do you find it easy to stay positive through the grunt work? Any zany invention stories to share?

Thrilling TV: What Rocks Your Tube?

This photo reminds me of a friend of mine. Back in college, she’d sit at her computer comparing her list of “future husband” traits to online profiles. Her list was equal parts long and specific. Tall, thin, light eyed, sensitive, artistic, dog loving, kid loving, financially well-off but not snobby, smart but not nerdy, loyal, never married or first wife died… I’m not joking. A few years later she met the love of her life—a short, stocky, divorced businessman from Saudi Arabia. Though he didn’t suit 80 percent of her proclaimed must-haves, he had the most important ones: loyalty, a loving heart, a sense of humor that tickled her and a penchant for her values. Years later, I doubt she could be happier.

Like Mr. Gump and his chocolates, when we open our hearts, we never know what we’ll get. Stories we fall in love with work similarly. 

I’m a thriller-oholic, and have been for as long as I can remember. But if I chose TV shows based on the cover and apparent genre, I’d miss out on some of my faves. I’ve noticed that shows that have swept me off my feet share similar characteristics, all of which suit, but aren’t limited to thrillers.

My favorite shows all have:

  • Captivating, relatable characters
  • Fabulous acting
  • Dramatic, emotional, suspenseful plots
  • Seriousness, some level of darkness
  • Surprising twists and secrets
  • Adult and family themes—family meaning blood-related or chosen units
  • High stakes—often life or death
  • Believable plots and endings (Events are often extraordinary, but they could theoretically happen.)

And tend not to have:

  • Kid focus (I wasn’t into YA, even as a YA.)
  • Alien life forms or cartoon characters
  • Endless violence or visual effects
  • Slapstick comedy (Funny moments, yes, but I prefer shows that enthrall me than keep me giggling or eye-rolling. ;))
  • Too many hum-drum, unhappy relationships (Everybody might love Raymond, but I find such shows depressing.)

We can learn a lot by examining the stories we’re drawn to. If I’d analyzed my tastes before writing my first novel, for example, I might have know it was a thriller from the get-go… What we’re drawn to in television, we’re often also drawn to in books, plays and films. They’re all, after all, story mediums. And I’m fascinated by what stories float others’ TV boats. If my favorite show attributes match yours, I bet you’ll adore these, if you don’t already.

My Top Three:

Lie to Me I nearly cried when Lie to Me was cancelled. It aired on FOX from 2007 to 2009, and features Dr. Cal Lightman and his colleagues, who together form an investigative, lie detecting team using applied psychological interpretation. Lightman is based on a real psychologist and body language and facial expressions expert, Dr. Paul Ekman. Ekman kept up with the show on his blog, which is still available and makes for a terrific accompaniment or followup to the show.

Criminal Minds is considered a “cop show,” but it’s far more. It centers around an elite group of FBI agents who analyze the most dangerous criminal minds in hopes of anticipating and preventing additional strikes. The main characters are sharp as whips and lovable, and having read the FBI’s criminal behavioral text (yeah, I’m nerdy like that), it’s extremely well-researched. CM focuses more on the victims than the killers, which would make The Gift of Fear author Gavin de Becker mighty proud. Season 8 kicks off next month on CBS.

Prison Break is a crime/action thriller that aired for four seasons on FOX, beginning in 2005. After Michael’s older brother, Lincoln, is sentenced for a murder he didn’t commit, he devises an elaborate plan for his escape. But that’s just the beginning… Prison Break is hands down the most suspenseful show I’ve ever seen, rich with surprising twists and drama, and believe it or not, a tear jerker. And the acting will knock your socks off.

More Faves Worth Mentioning:

  • Brothers and Sisters
  • The Good Wife 
  • Damages
  • Homeland
  • Revenge

Fabulous related posts:

Ellie Ann Soderstrom: The Best TV Shows in the World
Tiffany A. White and Amber West:  Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday: Suspense & Stilletos
Diane Capri Reveals Karla Darcy (Shhhh! Secrets!)
Jess Witkins: Deadwood: The Town, the TV Show, My New Guilty Pleasure

What do your favorite shows have in common? Which thrill you the most? Do your reading, writing and TV interests match?