THE WEST COAST GET DOWN

Kamasi Washington, Ryan Papa Porter, Tony Austin, Miles Mosley, Cameron Graves, Patrice Quinn and all of their talented friends that I have watched play, sing, rap, even tap dance… I’m soo proud of you!!

Wine & Jazz at Hollywood & Highland photo by Tamara Ham

Wine & Jazz at Hollywood & Highland photo by Tamara Ham

This spring, Kamasi Washington released his album THE EPIC. Aptly named, it’s the number one jazz album on Itunes and it is indeed awesomely epic! Today they start their first North American Tour.

Kamasi TourThese musicians are becoming masters of their crafts. They grew up playing music together, growing into their instruments, trusting each other, celebrating jazz and discovering their sound. Their music is heart-opening, healing, groovy, funky, medicine that has brought me so much JOY! I am crazy grateful and feel beyond lucky to have heard them live more times than I can count over the past 5 years. It’s been a gift to witness the exchange of positive energy between the crowd and their collaboration known as the WEST COAST GET DOWN…it feels like electric gratitude.

Check out their recent performance on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic.

Since the first time I heard them play, I became a huge fan! Special thanks to Susan Carter Hall for taking me to the Piano Bar on Wilcox and Selma that first of so many Friday nights.

Here is one of my faves!

I want to wish the WCGD a safe, happy and rockin’ tour! If they are in your town, GO and INDULGE!

Kamasi, Tony, Ryan, Miles, Cameron, Patrice…I’m soo proud of you!!

Are you proud of someone? Know someone you would like to feature on this blog.  Contact me at imsooproudofyou@icloud.com

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Mattie

I’m not surprised that Matthew Shaffer wrote a book. Nor am I surprised that it’s a great book!!! So You Want to be a Dancer: Practical Advice and True Stories from a Working Professional, is a must read for aspiring dancers and perfomers alike.

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Go find SO YOU WANT TO BE A DANCER on a bookshelf at your local bookstore!!

What pleasantly overwhelms me is how Matt’s boundless talent, work ethic, tenacity, and larger than life creativity so perfectly fill the pages of his book. How awesome it is that I can hold in my hands a piece of my friend… it’s paper & ink & Mattie!

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Strike a Pose! Follow Funnyshaffer on Instagram for dance-inspiration!

If you know someone that has a dream to purse their love of dance, singing or acting, please tell them about this book. There is so much grounded advice and the stories from Matthew’s years of experience in the dance world are crazy entertaining, as well as endearing.

Dancers, Actors, Writers, Directors & Producers, Matthew Shaffer and Jeffrey Peyton ham it up!

Dancers, actors, writers, directors & producers, Matthew Shaffer and Jeffrey Peyton know how to “Make Em Laugh”!

Thank you Mattie for sharing your vulnerability… for giving so much of yourself through this work of art. You are inspired, and that very special trait is contagious… I am grateful.

 Matthew Shaffer I’m soo proud of you!

Are you proud of someone? Know someone you would like to feature on this blog.  Contact me at imsooproudofyou@icloud.com

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MY DAD

Sending out a little Valentine’s Day ‘I’m so Proud of You’ to my DAD!

My favorite photo of my Dad.

My favorite photo of my Dad.

Could not be more proud of him and the choices he makes everyday to enjoy his golden years. He’s busier than ever sharing his time with family, friends, co-workers and in service to others.

This past December my Dad asked me to come down to the Port of Houston to visit him where he volunteers with the Chaplain’s Ministry at Howard T. Tellepsen Seafarers Center.

With my Dad at the Seafarers Center

With my Dad at the Seafarers Center

Part of the massive Port of Houston

Part of the massive Port of Houston

The Center is quieter these days, but there was a time when Seafarers from different ships would play Football (soccer) matches against each other on their field. This was when cargo ships stayed in port for a couple weeks, now I’m told everything has been automated to days, plus many of the Seafarer’s don’t have visa’s to disembark. For the ones that do, My Dad is there to pour them a beer, give them the wifi password, or just welcome them with his big-hearted Texan smile.

Dad with Chaplain David

Dad with Chaplain Edwards

The Port of Houston is the biggest port in the US and one of the busiest ports in the world. While he’s told me so much about it, mostly what I remember is it’s narrow, complicated and inundated with Industry. Just thinking about how the Captains and the tugboats work through it gives me anxiety, but my Dad loves watching the dance of it all.

Dad Bibles

He’ll always be a kid at heart. And his kind, loving and curious heart makes me so proud.

I love you Dad! I’m soo proud of you! xo, Mata

Audrey

Audrey is a runner. She is one of those people that you meet and immediately like. She’s grounded and kind and she exudes mindfulness. She’s also been diagnosed with not one but, two auto immune diseases, and yet, she recently ran her thirtieth marathon…3…0, What?!!!! Audrey is an inspiration and I’m so so so proud of her!

Audrey Evans

Audrey Evans

“I hope to be an inspiration to other people who receive a potentially scary diagnosis to realize that it’s not the be all and end all. We should listen to our Doctors, we should take medication mindfully, but we should still continue to do as much as we can or as much as we want to.” – Audrey Evans

Audrey ran her first marathon at sixteen. She was the first girl at her high school, Pali High, to run a marathon. Four years later, Audrey received her first diagnosis, Lupus. She was told her case was mild, so Audrey kept running and that year she ran her fifth marathon.

Eventually, Audrey experienced some struggles and setbacks from her diagnosis. At this point she was on her career path, working in film editing on high profile films as an Assistant Editor. She faced a much more serious diagnosis of lupus and was put on pregnazone for two years. She listened to her Doctors and she took the medication, but she vowed when she got off it she was going to be more mindful. She stuck to her word and continued to run.

Audrey Evans

Audrey Evans

Then Audrey was diagnosed with another auto immune disorder called PBS, Primary biliary cirrhosis, a cirrhosis of the bile ducks. She’s been told that regardless of what she does, in 10 years she can look forward to a liver transplant. That’s a major diagnosis and a horrifying projection. In spite of it, Audrey hasn’t let anything hold her back.  Eight years ago, she left her editing career to start a new one as a personal trainer. She loves it! She’s created a life that she enjoys with way less stress and embraced a plant strong diet. She refuses to accept that she has a disease.

“It’s important to make the distinction between a diagnosis and a disease. I don’t have a disease, I have a diagnosis. And, I’m able to do more than most people who don’t have a diagnosis.” – Audrey Evans

 Two stinky diagnoses and THIRTY marathons!!!

Audrey, I’m soo proud of you!!!!

A lil Q&A with Audrey:

POY: Back in your Pali High days, who or what inspired you to run that first marathon?

AUDREY:  I was inspired by Frank Shorter in the 1972 Olympics and always thought it would be cool to run the distance. When I joined the x country team, a number of the guys had run very respectable times. I wanted to give it a try!

POY: I recently heard someone say healthy habits create happiness. Regardless of whether you are training for a marathon, you still show up daily to take of yourself.  Are there some healthy habits that you could share about that help you stay connected to well-being?

AUDREY: Prayer and meditation help me tremendously! They help improve conscious contact with my Higher Power, which is the most important relationship I have. I have been doing The Course in Miracles for 4 years 🙂

POY: Is there someone in your life that you are crazy proud of right now?

AUDREY: There is no one person in my life right now that I can say I’m crazy proud of, though there are a number of people that I admire like crazy and who inspire me to no end.

Are you proud of someone? Know someone you would like to feature on this blog.  Contact me at imsooproudofyou@icloud.com

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Amani

Amani Matabaro is a Community Builder!

I was recently invited to meet him by Rebecca Snavely and Cate Haight, the founders of Action Kivu. Amani is their Congolese partner and together the three are on a mission to heal and empower the victims of conflict in Congo.

Cate, Amani and Rebecca in Los Angeles Summer 2014.

Congo is rife with a painful history of violence and instability. Amani spoke about his country and shared his story. He lost both of his parents in a wave of fighting after the Rwanda Genocide. Tenacious about finishing his education, Amani has worked as both an educator and an interpreter. He founded ABFEK, Actions pour le Bien être de la Femme et de l’Enfant au Kivu. Along with his wife Amini and an inspiring staff, they run a literacy and education program for children and teenage moms, as well as, a sewing program that teaches these young mother’s, victims of rape, how to sew, giving them a skill to help them create a life for themselves. They have also created a Peace Market for members of the community to meet up, buying and selling goods!!

Amani, I’m soo proud of you!

Read more about Rebecca and Cate!

Help heal and empower the beautifully resilient women and children of Congo by making a donation to Action Kivu!!!

Are you proud of someone? Know someone you would like to feature on this blog.  Contact me at imsooproudofyou@icloud.com

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Shane’s Inspiration Walk & Roll

“Vision: Fostering a bias-free world for children with disabilities Our Mission: Creating social inclusion for children with disabilities through the vehicle of inclusive playgrounds and programs.”

Super excited to join Team KMR for the 17th Annual Shane’s Inspiration 4K Walk & Roll this Sunday in Griffith Park.

About Shane’s Inspiration:

In 1997, Catherine Curry-Williams and Scott Williams lost their son, Shane Alexander, to Spinal Muscular Atrophy (Type I: Werdnig-Hoffman Disease) only a few weeks after his birth. Had Shane lived, he would have spent his life in a wheelchair. Because of a physical disability, Shane would have been denied one of the most fundamental rights of childhood: the right to play independently with friends and family at neighborhood and school playgrounds. This realization encouraged the Williams and family friend Tiffany Harris to turn a tragedy into a vision that resulted in Shane’s Inspiration… a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children with disabilities.

Check out this lovely video about this incredible organization.

Here’s a link to donate! http://www.shanesinspiration.causevox.com/teamkmr

My friends at KMR, Catherine, Scott and all of the wonderful people behind Shane’s Inspiration, I’m soo proud of you! See ya on Sunday!

Steven Espinosa

Steven Espinosa is a Dreamer. I thank God for the Dreamers in my life. They continue to be a huge source of inspiration and encouragement.

Steven Espinosa

Steven Espinosa

Steven came to Los Angeles in 1981 with big dreams to become a professional dancer, choreographer and filmmaker. He had an incredibly fulfilling dance career working on many early MTV music videos like, Weird Al Yankovic’s EAT IT and Sheila E’s THE GLAMOROUS LIFE. At the highlight of his career he spent three years dancing on tour with Sammy Davis Jr!

Steven Teaching at Liberation Yoga

Steven Teaching at Liberation Yoga

Life took a new direction when Steven fell in love with yoga. He began teaching in 2000. I met him a few years after that when I walked into his yoga class. That day Steven became my teacher. What sets him apart is his dedication to making yoga safe and fun for every aspiring yogi who finds him or herself in his class. I’ve spent a few birthdays in Steven’s class, him spotting me in a handstand while the class sang “Happy Birthday”. He’s the coolest!

The Black Dahlia Ballet

The Black Dahlia Ballet

A couple years ago, Steven returned to his dancing roots, this time to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a filmmaker. He wrote, directed and choreographed his first short film, THE BLACK DAHLIA BALLET. I attended the West Coast premiere and was blown away! The short had a super successful festival run and won numerous awards. You can watch the seven minute short here!

These days, Steven is a full time filmmaker. A full-length feature of THE BLACK DAHLIA BALLET is in development and he’s in pre-production on his second short film, AMERICAN DANCER. It’s so inspiring to watch him thrive while following his dreams.

Steven Espinosa, I’m soo proud of you!

Anyone reading this who does yoga or is interested in yoga can take Steven’s class!!! In 2008, he helped start up a website for online yoga called YogaGlo. Check out one of his many classes available here http://www.yogaglo.com/teacher-5-Steven-Espinosa.html.

 A brief Q and A with my inspiring friend and teacher, Steven Espinosa.

POY: There are so many parts of you that are creative, you’re a dancer, writer, teacher, a director… what keeps you motivated? Where do you find your daily inspiration?

SE: I continue to be fascinated by film and Hollywood history. I find tremendous inspiration and motivation from reading, writing and studying classic and contemporary films. I also am incredibly inspired by the students who attend my yoga classes. They help keep me grounded in the present moment and remind me of the ongoing process of everyday life.

POY: You’ve been such an incredible teacher and friend to me. Is there a teacher from your past that inspired you?

SE: My primary yoga teachers Sue Elkind, Naime Jezzeny and Douglas Brooks were my original inspirations to teach yoga. Through their gentle guidance and loving belief in me they changed the course of my life.

POY: Is there someone in your life that you are proud of and want to give a little shout out to?

SE: I am proud of my friends who continue to pursue their hopes and dreams in the face of life’s many challenges.

 Are you proud of someone? Know someone you would like to feature on this blog.  Contact me at imsooproudofyou@icloud.com

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