Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Help that comes from above.


A fellow merchant stopped me on the street awhile ago to say that she really enjoyed reading my blog!
My response, "oh I feel so guilty,  I rarely post and when I finally do I labor over the thing to the point of exhaustion."
She said, '"keep doing what you're doing, only post when you have something to say and keep putting your heart into it."
Wow, I thought as walked away, some people actually read my words.
That was months ago, busy and uninspired I have not posted again until today.
You may already know that I have dreams of hosting a show. I have known that I wanted to be on television since I was a child.  I have always wanted to make something, that will inspire and entertain, something that the world has never seen before! These big dreams that I have are a mixed blessing to say the least.
 I have had many successes and many, many closed doors. I have tried so many things, auditions, submissions projects, too many to count, I do not want to put you or myself though the pain of reliving it all  again just believe me when I say that I have tried a lot of things.
  I don't know how to explain what drives me except to say that, 'I  just have to'. Most of the time I keep so busy that when the "no thank you's' come, it only stings a little, but once a awhile I will find myself hammered by self doubt, words like 'wasted life, missed opportunity' and coward' race through my brain and torment me. I found myself stuck in one of these moods last week, I woke up feeling it creep in. The contemplations of what to do next, the reflections of my failed attempts and the question, why can't I find satisfaction in what I have accomplished and just let go of the seemingly impossible dreams that plague me? Then I said a prayer, it went something like this,
"God, I am tired, I'm discouraged, I don't have a plan, I've tried so many things, what do I do now? If I am really supposed to keep trying at this then please send me some inspiration, and  some direction!"
That morning I logged on to my email and saw a headline  that said,  'Best selling author, Kathryn Stockett rejected 60 times before published' I read Kathryn's interview  as she recounted her story and her words struck me, "what if I had given up on try #15? or try #60? Then she said, I did not know how to make myself give up" I could definitely relate to that.  Kathryn's book ,  'The Help' was finally published became a best seller and recently has been made into a film!


Feeling some of the inspiration that I prayed for and a lot of curiosity, I went to see this film.
I got rid of my TV years ago, and I rarely go to see a movie.
After the movie was over, I sat in my seat, not ready to leave the theatre, I was in awe of this woman, her tenacity and how she created this book that became such a beautiful, powerful film.
I almost never stay to watch the credits roll but something  kept me in my seat that night. As the theatre emptied out my friend said, "wow that will probably be nominated." and I overheard a couple say Oscar as they left.  As I chatted with my friend we were the only ones left still sitting, a name on the screen caught my eye, "whoa, Tate Taylor" ? I said out loud, my friend said, "what? who's that? do you know him?"
My first thought was, 'oh Tate, I remember he said he was from Mississippi, he must have acted in this? Then the words writer, and director rolled up, and I said, " What? how did he do that? This was a 25 million dollar film, when I met Tate a few years back he was the standard boy from a small town moved to Hollywood to make it big.
                 (Tate Taylor in the middle directing his lead actresses on the film set of The Help.)

Tate came to my shop to interview me in 2004, he was a writer sent by Coastal Living magazine.
My shop had been open a few years and one of my big dreams was to be featured in the pages of Coastal Living magazine. I just knew that this was going to happen, I knew it before I ever opened for business. Never mind that I had never seen a story on a business in Cl that was more than a page long, that most of their stories were on very expensive beach homes. A customer who was a writer told me that the proper protocol for getting into magazines,  was to get an agent who would pitch my story,  I needed some professional photos and a query letter, that I should not contact the editor directly but send it to their secretary and  then if there was interest  send more information. Well at that time I did not even own a computer and I knew that If I had to do all of that I would never do anything.
I decided to disregard this advice and do what I could do with what I had. I borrowed a camera took some very regular snapshots of my store, wrote a story, and arranged it all into a very homemade, very amateur  looking scrapbook which I sent directly to the editor in Birmingham Alabama. Two weeks later my phone rang and it was editor Kathy Still Johnson telling me, "we just love your store' in her pleasing southern accent. then she said,
" is your home a cute as your shop?, could you send us some more photos ? you see. Coastal Living does not produce features on businesses, the story needs to be about how you live and your work."
 'Well I said, "sure, my house is real cute, no problem....."
 When I hung up I was super excited that they actually called me! and I was also super panicked, my house was not cute at all, it was a 400 square foot mess, my last priority a one room loft with a giant hole in the roof that used to be a skylight, my landlord had nailed down a big unsightly piece of plywood because he did not want to replace it and you could see daylight through it. I was also struggling financially as I worked to get my business off the ground I had basically no budget to decorate, the only thing that I had going for me was, If there was one thing that I knew I was good at, it was interior design and creating something fun and whimsical out of nothing.
My plan was to set up and photograph a few cute corners in my loft, trick them into thinking my place was magazine worthy and buy myself enough time to decorate it properly before they sent a photographer out. Somehow this plan worked and they set a date to shoot my shop and my home that was  6 months out.

                                          (above, one of the pages from my homemade scrapbook)

(another page of snapshots that I took of my loft six months before the Coastal Living photo shoot)

I worked like a banshee on my house for the next 6 months, I painted the walls to look like the inside of an abalone shell, I pulled out all the tricks I had up my sleeve, I owned a ratty sofa that I could not afford to replace so I painted that too and glued seashells to it! I made the most beautiful seashell mirror I had ever made and I painted a giant pink seahorse over a sad looking painting that I bought for a dollar at a yard sale and I covered up the giant hole in my roof with a dozen paper parasols. I literally worked daily up until the night before they were scheduled to arrive. I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to make the best of this opportunity.
In my mind Coastal Living was the epitome of all design mags, I pictured the editors to be like the characters in  the  1980's TV show, Designing Women. I also thought that they would personally come out to my shop to do the story and I couldn't wait to see their reaction to all of my hard work!
I was green,
and naive,
 and very very lucky that they were doing a story on my humble little shop
at all.
What actually happened on the long awaited day of my photo shoot was they sent two young hip freelancers from LA to write and shoot my story.
Tate Taylor pulled up in his pick up truck, flip flops, tee shirt and shorts, he was kind, he was polite and I am pretty sure he was not too blown away by my work. He was a guy, (my shop is a girl's paradise) an  aspiring actor and writer, freelancing as a means to realize his own big dreams.
So much for my visions of a Dixie Carter type,  dressed in Lilly Pulitzer, falling in love with my designs and offering me a design column at Coastal Living.
When the  7 page story finally published a year later I was very happy with what Tate wrote, I asked him to write about how I started my shop from scratch and recount my 'if I can do it, anybody can' story. I wanted the article to inspire people to do follow their own dreams, I did not want it to be just another story on design and decor and it wasn't .

Tate's story in Coastal Living was priceless to my business, it tripled my sales, opened doors to my work being featured on Extreme Home Makeover and many other exciting things happened because of Coastal Living.

Still wondering how Tate came to direct this film, I went home that night and started reading about the film online. As I read interviews of Tate and Kathryn, I thought to myself, now I understand what God meant when he said Faith will move mountains.
According to my understanding of what I have read, Tate and Kathryn were childhood friends, they grew up together in Jackson Miss. After Kathryn had written her book and was rejected over 60 times she gave the manuscript to her friend Tate , she asked him to tell her if it was any good because nobody wanted it. Tate saw what others did not see in his friends book and encouraged her to keep trying. He told her that he wanted to make a film based on her book,  he could see that eventually the book, would be published and  become a best seller, and he wanted to make sure that he was the one to make the film,  having grown up in the same town under similar circumstances he just knew that he was the only one to tell this story properly, he was concerned that Hollywood would warp the story, or worse buy the rights and let it sit on the shelves for  years which is apparently a common practice in the film industry..
 Tate pestered Kathryn until she agreed, all of her friends and family advised her not to give the rights to Tate, who had only produced two small Indy films, but she did agree. Tate started writing the screen play and was actually finished with it before the book was ever published!
When Ms. Stockett's book became a best seller Hollywood did come calling for the movie rights just as Tate predicted, but  Tate already had the rights and everybody was asking who is Tate Taylor?
These LA producers were not too convinced that this new comer should write and direct this film. Knowing that Tate indeed did have legal rights, they said, "well we are going to need a screenplay before we can consider you as director. I bet they were surprised when Tate promptly handed them the screen play and probably said,  something like, 'here ya go'  In my imagination I can see the disappointment in their faces as the realization set in that what they were reading was well written and Tate had earned his right to direct this film. In fact, Tate had so much faith in this project that he already had a lead actress and a backdrop for the movie prepared.
I wondered how Tate felt when Stephen Spielberg green lighted this 25 million$ project?  Was he saying, 'oh shit I really am the director!'  I have asked myself, when I finally get what I have been working towards for so long, will I be scared?
Tate was asked if he was scared, with so much money invested, so many big name actors to direct, a dream works production.... his answer, "if it had been a film about robots or something that I didn't understand, I would have had a panic attack, but this story is important to me, it's what I know, and I knew that no one could tell this story better that I could. I was never afraid."
Wow...  I love that!  What I love even more is that this film directed by this newcomer, totally kicked ass! It will no doubt receive many awards.
I sit here writing to you and I know that God has indeed answered my prayer for inspiration, the direction I asked God for however is still foggy.
The deadline to submit a video to HGTV this year is Oct 21st and I am not sure I want to audition again.
I do know I want to keep trying, but what to do now is a mystery to me.
Part of me wants to just start doing it on my own, in my own amateur unpolished goof ball way, put it online  and see if anybody likes it. (you can see some of what I am talking about on my youtube channel just type in Debi Beard)
The big dreamer part of me wants finally get picked for that show win it and create the best design entertainment show ever in the history of network TV.
it is also said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
What do you think?
 It has been said that, wisdom is in a multitude of counselors "
 I would love hear to your comments, tell me if you think I should send another audition tape to HGTV, if I   do this will be my 7th attempt!
What should do in my five minute tape this time?
What do you think they want to see?
 Should I forget it this year and do something else? 
 Go ahead give me your  constructive criticism, new ideas and advice. I want to hear it and I can take it.

Kathryn Stockett was asked what inspired her to write 'The Help'?
She said it was her maid Demetri, who helped raise her, whom she loved and missed. Demitri passed away when Kathryn was 18 and she  longed to hear her voice again, seeking comfort she began to write in Demitri's voice.
I lost my childhood friend Shayne two years ago. and sometimes I can recall his voice so clearly, rooting for me, cracking jokes and encouraging me in his own sarcastic way.  Shayne was like Tate in a lot of ways, he lived and worked in Hollywood, he had dreams of making it as an actor, he was smart, talented and driven and he would help me when I had a new idea, in fact he helped me edit the submission  I sent to Coastal Living.
The last time I saw Shayne he was in the hospital using all of his courage to stay alive. He was hooked up to so many machines that he couldn't speak. so he wrote to me on notebook paper asking me, 'what are you working on now?' When I told him that I got a callback out of an open call of over 10,000 he gave me two big thumbs up, when I said 'yeah but I didn't get it he said (wrote) "keep trying."
Shayne was my best friend of 28 years, he was charming, easy to love and had so many friends that loved him dearly. Shayne's life was cut short and for reasons that I do not understand, there was never a proper memorial for him. I never got the opportunity to stand up and say publicly what he meant to me and what an extraordinary man he was. I promised him in the hospital that I would tell everyone how brave he was and and how hard he fought. Shayne was my Tate, many times I witnessed him demonstrate the type of courage and faith I have written about here.  This post is dedicated to my friend,
Shayne
                                                     Shayne and I, at 16 years old.

                                             Here we are at our 20TH high school reunion.

                                                                      Shayne Arik Ireland
                                                                      March 19, 1966
                                                                      March 6, 2009

                                                                This one's for you my friend,
                                                                Sincerely,
                                                                Debi




11 comments:

LuLu Kellogg said...

Dear Debi:

I have been reading your Blog whenever you post....ever since I met you when I shopped with you during the time Kim Caldwell brought our Moulin Rouge girls down from LA. I was totally blown away by your shop and the warm welcome we received.

This post was such a beautiful tribute to your friend Shayne. Keep on believing in the magic you create and you WILL achieve all your heart desires.

You have inspired me.

Love,
LuLu Kellogg

Unknown said...

The was a GREAT Blog! I enjoyed reading it. I'm sorry to hear about your BFF Shayne. I pass through your wonderful store about 3 times a year and hope to make it to your Sunday events one day soon.
All the best,
Georgina

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. To say out loud what so many think in their heart. Never give up!!!! The Best is yet to be!!!!!!!! God Bless Melissa

Leanne said...

Of course you should do it ...

but nobody but you and God (or the deity of your choice) know what your five minute video should be about.

Lisa Loria said...

As you know watching Shayne's life, like I do with my late hubby. Life is too short to not give it your all! Do what you want, stand up for yourself, your dreams, your passion and GO FOR IT!!!!

"persistence is never overlooked"

Love and miss you.

Lisa

Rachel said...

What a beautiful post and tribute to your friend, Shayne. Sometimes it is so difficult to find inspiration. I say carpe diem and press on...you want this so badly. You'll get there!

XO,
Rachel

Susan Browning said...

Dear Debi,

I enjoyed reading your blog!

I would say that you should always do what you enjoy and if being creative is what you enjoy, you should keep striving and be willing to be surprised.

As for a show idea, what comes to my mind is to design a show that people can recreate in their own homes on a shabby chic budget using recycled products green and afordable. Show people that they can improve their space and it is not as hard as they think. Maybe even tips for the beginners people like me that have never really anything but my nails and face! My husband recently went on a hunting trip and I wanted to surprise him with a home improvement while he was gone, but I was too afraid to really screw something up.That's it - my 2 cents. love you, susie

susan browning said...

Debi,

I wrote you a long comment and then lost it!!! Anyway my idea is shabby chic, easy, affordable ideas and tips for the beginner that wants to improve their space without spending a fortune or making too many painful, costly mistakes. That is what I would like to see.

love you,
susie

MexicoNaomi said...

I think a lot of time we do not realize how much we influence other people in a positive way. I may have mentioned this to you before...??? But your shop inspired me to follow a crazy dream that I had for a long time.. and now I have my "Off the Beach" studio here in Northern Mexico. It has been open for one year this month & I am very happy to finally be doing something crazy cool!

Your words ARE read and your ideas DO inspire others!

Keep going after whatever it is you want to do. But if you feel overwhelmed by it, then I think you gotta do something that will make you feel confident & good about yourself. And, I believe we always know "deep down in our gut" what is the right direction...

Does that make sense?
and, ThanX for your Inspirations!

Check it out when you get a sec:
http://mexiconaomi.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html


"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air…"

Eugenia said...

Give HGTV another try but also post on online and let us know. Mr. Macy filed bankruptcy seven times before his retail empire took hold. You will never regret what you do but you may live to regret what didn't try.

Start visualizing your show…I know you think you are doing this but visualize without any doubt. You brought Coastal Living to you bring this next dream to life.

As long as you are living keep trying. Never never ever give up.
Achieve your destiny.

Rita said...

Debi, I usually rush through blog posts especially when they are long. I had to stop and read all of it! You are a great writer did you know that? My opinion: lets forget HGTV! Let's go bigger. Never stop believing, Carpe Diem. Ciao Rita