After eight years, my first feature was completed yesterday afternoon. EIGHT YEARS! I realized I drafted the first version of the script that long ago, and it’s taken a near decade to make the film a reality. The editor, the sound mixer, and I listened for any last minute sound adjustments before we printed the mix. I was reluctant to say “Okay. We’re done.” But the moment came, and we finished.
Looking back at the eight years, I can see the many miraculous dots it took to connect in order to reach this moment. There were countless seemingly random encounters that led to relationships, that led to miracles and doors opening. But I think the most important factor in the eight years, was in fact, the amount of time it took to make Lez Bomb. Had I made the film eight years ago, it would have been a very different film. The first draft was confused, emotional, in turmoil, and jam-packed with all the emotions of coming out. What the eight years allowed was the necessary time it took for me to settle into my sexuality with comfort, pride, a sense of ease, and the ability to look back at the process through a comedic lens.
Coming out seemed one of the most difficult things I had to navigate. Dealing with expectations, my own being the loudest, and my future not matching with what I had imagined, was a challenge. But it ended up being the greatest gift. It’s through experiences that force us to confront who we are and what happiness personally means to our own unique soul that force us to grow into the best version of ourself.
Over the past eight years and well over a hundred drafts of Lez Bomb, I can most certainly say that coming out may have took some time, but was well worth the wait and reflection. It’s given me the strength to tell a story and hopefully spread a bit of love and laughter.
Taking last weeks post a step further and applying the practice of meditation to filmmaking…
I’m entering preproduction on my feature film Lez Bomb. The idea of making a movie seems monumental. Everything it entails becomes a monstrous to-do list that’s both overwhelming and off-putting. When we approach it as such, it looks like an impossible journey.
But let’s compare it to hiking. I have the tendency to look up a mountain and feel instantaneously overwhelmed. Yes, there’s a sense of adventure. But once that initial awe wears thin, I start thinking about the energy it requires, questioning if it’s the ideal temperature, I start question everything, I think about all the other things in life I need to attend to instead of this hike such as work, phone calls, etc. The story’s endless and it’s off running. Until – I bring the mind back to take the first step upwards. Then another step upwards with space to admire the surrounding scenery. With each step and each breathe, the journey continues and before I know it, I’m at the top of the mountain.
When we create space between our thoughts through a practice like meditation, we’re able able to identify when our minds gone off running. We’re empowered with the ability and control to pull it back to the present, where’s there’s a single task in front of us. All we need to do is conquer that single task.
Embarking on this movie once seemed impossible. Now I see it broken into tasks. I’ll attempt to tackle each task as they come, and deal with the ups and downs as they present themselves instead of mentally fabricating all the what-ifs around scenarios that aren’t reality. Step back and take cues from your surroundings. Like a hike, the path presents itself once we return to the present, look at what’s in front of us, and see the directions pointing us where we’re trying to go. What once seemed a monstrous feat becomes a slow climb upwards, step by step, and before you know it you’re at the foot of a waterfall.
Playlist I’m currently writing to: Writing Jams
Book I’m currently reading: The Hidden Messages in Water
Food I’m currently experimenting with: Vegan Sushi
A sequence of text messages from friends about “being present” got me thinking how that term’s thrown around often without tangible tools to help one arrive at a state in which you’re actually present and not talking about it.
If we take the “woo woo” out of the conversation and look at the practicality in our everyday lives, meditation’s an invaluable tool. Meditation provides the opportunity to clearly see the thoughts as they pass before the forefront of the mind, creating space to choose which thoughts are entertained. The majority of actions we take are determined by habits, not spontaneity or intellect. By creating space between thoughts, and choosing which thoughts to engage, we’re given time to carefully observe the thought and decide the most informed way to act.
When meditation has come up in conversation, I’ve often seen family, friends, acquaintances have tried it, it didn’t work, so they stopped. Instruction to “clear one’s head” isn’t necessarily useful. And approaching the mat with the expectation to experience something is set up to fail. The best instruction I was given was “go to the mat, practice every day and stop asking so many questions.” While questions are good, they’re often an excuse and procrastination masking itself as a question.
Go to the mat, sit in silence, watch thoughts as they pass. When you’ve found yourself latched to a thought and off on a tangent, return to the breath without judgement. “But what should happen?” Listen, if I told you the directions from my home to the Statue of Liberty – does that mean you wouldn’t go? Or would you go, probably notice different things, and have your own experience? We all arrive places a different route, with experiences shaded by the set of lens through which we perceive.
Playlist I’m currently writing to: Writing Jams.
Coffee drink I’m currently obsessed with: Mushroom Coffee.
Book I’m currently reading: The Obstacle is the Way.
I went off and got married, disappeared on a honeymoon, and haven’t blogged in forever. On the honeymoon, my wife and I had an amazing adventure in Bali. One of the days, we ventured off to visit a healer. Our driver took us to a village where we waited an hour for locals to chat with this healer, until it was finally our turn for a little divine intervention. One of the things he told me that’s chimed in my head since was – I need to make decisions and stick with them, and not get stuck in the chaos of “what ifs” and the crippling tangents our mind is so naturally inclined towards that create stagnation, and prevent action.
I’m in the middle of a rewrite on a script I’m developing with a company. While digesting the notes, I see my main character, my protagonist, doesn’t really know what she’s doing in all the scenes. Yes, the scenes and dialogue are funny. But she doesn’t always have a clear objective. She’s lacking the decisiveness I sometimes struggle with in my own life.
Story structure is a wonderful reminder that we’re all the hero of our own journey, and have the option to choose the narrative we want to tell. The problem is, we often find ourselves reactionary – life happens at us, and then we react, instead of us creating the space for life to happen, giving ourselves a moment to observe, and then actively choosing our next step on the narrative we long to tell. I loved choose-your-own-adventure-books as a child. It’s a mystery why I so often forget to choose my own adventure.
My biggest regret in life would be to be on my death bed and look back at my life as if it were a script and realize my protagonist didn’t always know her objective and didn’t always make clear decisions that would lead her on the journey she wanted to embark upon.
Instead of getting stuck in the stagnation of the world happening around us, lets gently reminder one another that habitually reacting to the chaos doesn’t give us the space and opportunity to give meaning to the chaos, and decisively choose our next step, in a way that helps us actively create the story we’d like to tell on this adventure of life.
The internet has been a crazy landscape these past two weeks for one of my projects. About a week ago we released my short film GIRL NIGHT STAND on After Ellen and had some incredible feedback. Everyone loves an awkward one night stand. Sexuality aside, those confusing emotions are universal. It’s the universality I’m interested in exploring. At the core, we’re all humans trying our best. And through comedy, an audience can be united in laughter.
After another featured article on Bustle, and then getting featured on Elle.be, I have to say – I’m just floored. I’m beside myself with gratitude for the amazing support I’ve received from complete strangers helping and encouraging my feature Lez Bomb and the Lez Bomb team’s endeavor to get the film made.
Girl Night Stand from Jenna Laurenzo on Vimeo.
As most things in my life – this adventure started in a yoga class. I was deeply conflicted about directing Lez Bomb. Instead of focusing on my breathing and my practice on the mat, I was mentally going back and forth about whether or not I should direct the feature. I had gone through many conversations with potential directors, and there was always some reason that got in the way. I finally had to ask myself – should I just direct the piece myself? I had written and produced so much content in the past, and I had directed before. But a feature?! My feature. That’s scary.
My yoga teacher asked us all to grab two blocks and then asked us to kick up into handstand on the blocks. I found myself afraid of kicking up. But why? We were against the wall. Then I realized I didn’t want to fall – in front of who? The teacher? The class? “Oh my God, I’m afraid of falling! I’m afraid of failing!” I kicked up into handstand on those two blocks – successfully. I just sucked it up and mustered up the courage – who the hell cares if I fall?! And that’s how I decided to direct my feature. And short. I realized I was the only one holding myself back.
Thankfully I found two blocks, a handstand, and a little boost of courage. I’m terrified of directing an entire feature. But sometimes we just need to confront fears – especially when they are self created, and kick upside down to gain new perspective.
It’s March! How did that happen? I’m going to write about running again…
After the Philadelphia half marathon, my fiancé entered us into the lottery for NYC’s half marathon. Well, I got picked. Solo. Running through Times Square was an amazing experience. The lights, the cheering people – it’s all a bundle of inspiration that ignites the spirit to push further. I hope to do a full marathon one day.
With the solo time I was able to go into deep reflection over the past year. January marked the ten year anniversary of wave day:
I can’t help celebrating life recalling that memory. While the experience was scary, I wouldn’t trade having faced fear head on. The reality is, we create so much drama for ourselves. But having been on a ship that near capsized, it helps keep the “drama” in perspective. Thank you Semester at Sea for teaching me what “high stakes” really means. I try to keep life grounded, and bring the high stakes to my writing. It’s a worthwhile challenge.
Within the year I got engaged, bought a condo, met Radhanath Swami a handful of times, studied with my yoga teacher, lived in a LA for a few months, developed a stint of Alopecia (what?!), grew that hair back, blamed LA for the hair loss, got over that, wrote a ton, and ran two half marathons with a lot to reflect on. The second of which I never stopped running. Those neon pink shoes kept a continuous pace pounding the pavement for 13.1 miles. It was a personal victory. As all trial, tribulation, success and triumph should be. We all have our own mountain to climb. Fulfillment lies in the ability to bring our personal peak performance inspired by experiences and people who teach us along the way.
I couldn’t help but smile through the race. Gratitude inspired each step. It’s been a hell of a year and I knew pancakes awaited me after the finish line.
‘Tis the season! Being just a few weeks before Christmas and after Thanksgiving, I can’t help but fixate on giving thanks. The word play is killing me – my ego that is.
After training for and running the Philadelphia half marathon I came to three realizations: 1. I could finish 2. I want to run a full marathon 3. When left to run for long periods of time I was struck by how often my mental state went negative when the running got difficult.
Life is just a series of hills and plateaus. Without the challenges we’d grow complacent. Challenges give us the opportunity to transform – the only way to overcome a challenge is to go through it and within that journey is a personal transformation.
I was deeply inspired by the amount of people out in the streets cheering – mostly for the folk running the full marathon, but hey I’ll take it. With our names pinned to our shirts, I got a few personal cheers. And let me tell you – those cheers from perfect strangers meant the world. I never knew just how powerful encouragement was until that run. With that giving, I was eternally gratefully, and the running became about something outside myself.
When my mind went into bitching mode with an approaching hill, I caught myself and remembered gratitude – for beautiful weather, for enthusiastic cheers, and for my fiancé who pushed me into this new long-distance-running-territory. My exhaustion and nagging mind fell to the wayside as I let my mental activity quite, and the presence of the moment inspire each stride with gratitude.
With every journey there are challenges, but gratitude’s the sip of inspiration that can help us get to the view on the other side.