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!!

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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!

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

 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.

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Last weekend I attended my first #InstaMeet at TOMS on Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA. A few days prior to it I had never heard of an Instameet. In case it’s new to you as well, it’s an event that instagrammers (IGers) put together to meet up and get to know fellow IGers. This past weekend, May 17th, was the 9th Annual Worldwide InstaMeet Day, or #WWIM9 in Instagram terms. I read about the event on facebook and was immediately interested. A huge fan of TOMS, I’ve been wanting to attend an event at their flagship store. Plus, we’d be picking up trash along Abbot Kinney, and I love the idea of spending part of my weekend giving back.


I clicked “join” and reached out to my friend Noelle to come with. Noelle, the perfect partner in crime, is always up to volunteer, and her instagram feed is impressive, photo after photo of her beautiful art and her unique glittery perspective. My instagram, however, needs help! I’ve yet to fully embrace it as a tool for imsooproudofyou, so I thought what better way to learn than to meet people who love instagram.

one for one tam and noelle

Obviously, I’m in the midst of a pretty big learning curve! Prior to this blog, I didn’t have a whole lot of social media experience. I used Facebook and Instagram privately to share photos with friends and keep up on their lives. Starting this blog and writing about the kick ass people that I’m proud of has pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to embrace social media.

Tam and Noelle

The first month of posting, I had some pretty big panic attacks. Once I became aware of just how much fear I have of putting myself out there, I spent some time facing it. Asking myself, what’s the worst that can happen from writing a blog about people’s accomplishments that inspire me? I thought about the subjects of my posts, about Rebecca and Cate and their non-profit Action Kivu. These amazing ladies are on a mission to empower women in the Congo. It didn’t take long for me to realize it’s time to let go of all this silly anxiety and use my voice to continue growing this blog. My hope is that imsooproudofyou will encourage people to notice some of the good things their peers are doing, and then take the extra step to tell them how proud they are.

“Becoming comfortable with fear, and acting confidently in its face, will not only give you more courage when facing it next time but also greatly increase your chances of achieving success and happiness.” Blake Mycoskie, TOMS founder, author “Start Something That Matters”

So, Noelle and I arrived on Saturday morning to a bustling store. We were initially apprehensive. A lot of these IGers have a huge instagram presence with thousands of followers. I have a handful and just a few pics up…but you have to start somewhere.

Petehalvorsen and Ryanhappygilmore hosting the event.

Petehalvorsen and Ryanhappygilmore hosting the event.

With the help of some TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee, we fueled up and jumped in to meet people. It was a great crowd! The event was hosted by Pete (petehalverson), an avid IGer, who has organized many an #instameet and Ryan (ryanhappygilmore) a TOMS employee. They enthusiastically welcomed us and led an exciting raffle of TOMS goodies. Their energy and excitement for bringing this community together was awesome. Eventually, we all dispersed to pick up trash. Noelle turned cleaning up the streets into an art project! This girl can find the HEART in anything, anywhere.

heartWhile Noelle was making art, I was chatting it up with strangers. Soon we met Tim (timshootsthings), Jeff (drfitnessnow) and Kai(kaiborgstroops).

Jeff and Kai

Kai helped Noelle with this piece of art.

Noelle street artSo grateful for everyone involved in this event. I had a blast! A HUGE #IMSOOPROUDOFYOU shoutout to Pete, Ryan, Becky from TOMS with her super welcoming smile, Tim, Jeff, Kai, Johnny_2point0, Noelle and all the faces that I didn’t have a chance to meet. Hope to see you at the next one. We’ll see where I am on this learning curve by then!

group pic

  I’m soo proud of you, #TOMSInstaMeet!

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You know that Spanish bullfighting chant…”Olé, olé olé oléee. Olé. Olé!”  Well, when I think of my friend Ali, I just want to chant, “Ali, ali ali aliii. Ali. Ali!” Because Ali brings the greatest energy into every room. He’s a remarkably funny and engaging man with the biggest heart.

Ali emcees an event for Angels Foster Care

Ali emcees an event for Angels Foster Care

Wait, you may already know Ali, as part of the Rock Star Duo The Hot TomAlis. Ring a bell? No? Maybe…? Well, the past couple Novembers…I mean, Movembers, Ali teams up with his partner in crime, Tom Adams, to raise money to fight prostate cancer. The Hot TomAlis don their stashes and put on a hell of a campaign that has raised over $53,000 dollars. Check out last year’s amazing music video.

Ali is on a journey to use his business acumen and his time to bring attention to causes and help people in need. He started Just a Little Push in 2013. His mission:

“FIND amazing people who need a little help. INSPIRE everyone to make a difference. We believe that everyone has a good heart and wants to make a difference; and, we know sometimes people need just a little push to get started making a difference in the world. LAUGH and have fun. We believe that making a positive impact on the lives of others can be fun. Giving and giving back doesn’t have to be stuffy or stodgy. Life is short, and we’re going to have fun while we make the world a better place!” Ali Azarvan

This May, Ali is dedicating himself to what he calls May Days: One Month to Make a Difference!! He’s volunteering with 25 different non-profits in 30 days and blogging about it to raise awareness. So far this month he’s volunteered and blogged about Domestic Violence Solutions, DAWG, (Dog Adoption and Welfare Group), Habitat for Humanity, Casa of Santa Barbara County, Transition House, The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara, The Alzheimer’s Association, The Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation & Dig 4 Kids, Santa Barbara Animal Rescue and The Santa Barbara Food Bank.

The Santa Barbara paper covering Ali's May Days

The Santa Barbara paper covering Ali’s May Days

He’s also graciously made time to give us a little glimpse of the inspiration for and from May Days.

TAM: So Ali, rumor has it you quit your job to do May Days. What inspired this life change?

ALI: Ha! Honestly, there were a few things that inspired this major transition in my life. The first was the success of my Movember campaign – as you know, I kind of went nuts and let the campaign totally consume me.  I spent all of my waking moments figuring out how to get attention and raise as much money as I could to fight prostate and testicular cancer. It was a success – we finished in the top 10 of the nation in dollars raised out of almost 30,000 teams! I realized that if I can have fun and raise money for a worthwhile cause, my focus and efforts would be maximized.  I was blessed to have the greatest role model growing up – my father.  The tipping point for me was the birth of my son. I looked at him one day and thought, “Wow, I’m definitely not on the path to becoming a similar role model for him.  I need to make a change now.”

The Hot TomAlis and their entourage kicking cancer's ass!

The Hot TomAlis and their entourage kicking cancer’s ass!

Ali with new friends at CASA

Ali with new friends at CASA

TAM: It’s May 16 and you’ve already given your time to twelve amazing organizations this month. What’s the main thing that you’re getting from all of your giving?

ALI: I’m getting more than I would have ever imagined out of this month. I’m getting re-energized! For me, the coolest thing is that I’m getting a chance to meet some amazing people that I probably would not have been exposed to otherwise. Their energy is contagious and passion is inspiring. Everyone has been so supportive of this project, and they’ve allowed me to get a view of their non-profits from every angle.

Ali and Rossi Morreale hosting the Jimmy Miller Foundation and Dig for Kids Surf and Volleyball Competition

Ali and Rossi Morreale hosting the Jimmy Miller Foundation and Dig for Kids Surf and Volleyball Competition

Ali with Habitat for Humanity

Ali with Habitat for Humanity

TAM: Ali, I’m soo proud of you for everything that you are, for what you stand for and for who you’re choosing to be. Is there someone in particular that you want to give a shout out to today to let them know you’re proud of them?

ALI: This may seem a little self-serving, but I’d love to give a shout out to my wife, Nicole. She’s been so supportive of this project and the huge investment of time that it has required. She’s a nurse, still works every day and comes home to our maniac teething baby with more energy than I can even comprehend. This project has made it difficult for me to help as much as I should but she has never once complained!

Ali, Nicole and their adorable 'maniac teething' baby

Ali, Nicole and their adorable ‘maniac teething’ baby

 “Ali, ali ali aliii. Ali. Ali!!”, I’m soo proud of you!

 Check out Ali’s blog and follow him on facebook. Hopefully, it will give you ‘a little push’ and motivate you to find a local charity that you can volunteer with or make a donation to this month!

Ali and friends at DAWG

Ali and friends at DAWG

I’ll be heading up to Santa Barbara later this month to join Ali for a Make A Wish: Miles-a-Thon. We’ll be reaching out to friends and family and friends of friends and their families asking them to donate frequent flyer miles. Most wishes involve travel, and these miles will help wish kids take flight. Details to follow!

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Go Hally!!!

Hally Cohen’s first love was Tennis. Hally is Tennis! From high school to college sports, coaching to managing the Beverly Hills Tennis Club, Hally has made a career out of that love. Last year she competed in the Maccabiah Games in Israel and brought home bronze for Team USA!!! I’m soo proud of her.


Hally Cohen - Serve!

Hally Cohen – Serve!

Sparkling and spirited, Hally lights up a room. I find her sunny, uplifting disposition and her athletic tenacity to be incredibly inspiring. Here’s a little glimpse of Hally’s career, her goals and her inspirations…

Tam: I love that you have made a career out of Tennis. Take me through that journey.

Hally: Growing up I was intent on getting a college scholarship and playing pro, both of which I was lucky enough to accomplish. Although the pro dream was short lived and a money loss not gain. Wouldn’t trade it for the world though! I played for Purdue, then I coached for Long Beach State for ten years. My girls were amazing! Left there to take the job as General Manager/head pro at Beverly Hills Tennis.

Hally on the court.

Hally on the court.

Tam: I’m sure you’ve played with a lot of motivating coaches and promising student athletes. Is there anyone in particular that inspired you, made you really proud?

Hally: I have always been inspired by great athletes, but as I get older, I realize I draw different inspiration from different types of people.  My friend Jenny who has coached the Long Beach team to 11 Big West Conference titles in thirteen years, my friend Hollie who quit her job to travel the world, my Dad who can find the humor in any situation, my friend Clare who qualified for the Boston Marathon, my clients who have decided to learn a new sport, my psychologist friend Angela who has been asked to publish a book on the amazing work she has done in the field of cutting, and my friend Tam who literally can’t walk anywhere in this city without knowing at least 20 people!

Tam: (Ha! I think that only happens when I’m with you!) You are such a free spirit, yet you’re so disciplined. What inspires you daily?

Hally: I am a true believer that your physical state directly influences your mental state.  I’m happiest when I have a goal in front of me, just so happens most of my goals are physical ones.  Plus …I get a good tan!

Hally Cohen bringing home Bronze at the Maccabiah Olympic Games 2013.

Hally Cohen bringing home Bronze at the Maccabiah Olympic Games 2013.

Tam: Last year it was really cool to hear about you competing for a spot on the USA Team for the Maccabiah Olympics. Once you made the team, you got right to work training and fundraising for the trip. It was so exciting watching you manifest that experience. Was it something that you wanted to do for some time?

Hally: I knew about the Maccabiah Games since I was a junior player but I was on a different path (a more serious one) and I realized about two years ago that I missed competition. The opportunity presented itself and I grabbed it.

Hally's fourth marathon.  2014 LA Marathon

Hally’s fourth marathon. Los Angeles 2014

Tam: This Spring you ran your fourth marathon. Congrats! I’d imagine it’s nice to take some downtime every once and a while. I also imagine you’re dreaming up a new goal. What’s next?

Hally: Ahh, I’ve been wondering that myself!  There are the Pan Am Games in Chile in 2015 that I’m debating trying out for.  More than likely I will.  Other than that, cleaning my room seems like the most pressing goal that’s in front of me right now.  I’m not joking, cleaning my mess is a hardcore work out!

I am a true believer that your physical state directly influences your mental state.  I’m happiest when I have a goal in front of me, just so happens most of my goals are physical ones.  Plus …I get a good tan! – Hally Cohen

It’s pretty awesome to know this happy, grateful woman who thrives, doing what she loves.

Hally Cohen, I’m soo proud of you!

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Yogi Roth, a man of integrity with a mad case of wanderlust, is ready to inspire you to get up and go!

Yogi Roth sailing Cape Horn February 2014

Yogi Roth sailing Cape Horn February 2014

 I met Yogi a little over a year ago. As people do, we became facebook friends. I found myself getting to know him as his posts popped up on my news feed. This past February he set off on an adventure that blew me away. Yogi set sail around Cape Horn to retrace the same voyage that his great, great, great (three greats) grandfather took in 1858.  This particular trip was a looong time coming. Yogi’s journey started at eight years old when he found the journal of his thrice great grandfather. Inspired by the kindred spirit who lost everything and took to the seas for 387 days, a very young Yogi vowed to one day sail the same waters. While Yogi posted photos and musings about his adventure, I read along, feeling inspired, liking, sharing and following his story.

I reached out to Yogi to find out more about the adventure-preneur, living his LIFE WITHOUT LIMITS. I found out that for the past 10 years Yogi has worked hard to create a dream career in sports broadcasting for college football. Watch Yogi’s TedxTalk and you’ll understand how football really was his first love. Now he is a college football analyst, who also produces documentaries that feature college teams. Yogi works tirelessly from the late summer through fall doing a job that he loves! That, in and of itself, is crazy inspiring to me! But there’s so much more to Yogi. After the bowl games end, while the new year is still unfolding, Yogi puts away the pigskin and picks up a map, embracing his current love, travel!

Yogi Living Life Without Limits

Yogi Living Life Without Limits

Yogi takes a trip…Actually Yogi takes a pilgrimage. After years of setting off on his own to explore the world, Yogi made a call to action. He posted a video encouraging people to join him for a two-week stroll, or rather a looong walk on the Camino De Santiago, The Way of St. James. On June 5th, 2013 Yogi met up with a group of inspired travelers in Portugal and they started their journey. Their group grew as they walked through Spain and into France. His one requirement was that each traveler become a storyteller, “Learn someone else’s story each day and share it anyway you choose. Whether it is Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vine, Instagram, blog, journal and more while tagging each post with #LWOL.”

Yogi’s love affair with traveling and his expertise in broadcasting are turning him into a documentarian. He has partnered up with a production company to capture his odysseys. I can’t wait to see these docs, to watch Yogi the Storyteller in action, connecting with fellow travelers and exploring the world.

Yogi recently told me, “Really all I’m trying to do is help one person get up and go…To inspire them.”

 Umm, Yogi, it’s working! Where do we go next? I’m in!

 Yogi Roth, I’m soo proud of you!

 Get inspired by YOGI! Follow his blog! Find him on Facebook. Watch his TedxTalk!

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