Sleuthing Success

So Yuri and I have been devouring the BBC’s Sherlock whenever they put out new episodes yearly. It is a show that hits both of our themes while having a high quality of excellence! For me it is highly aesthetic mystery in this alternate reality where this brilliant genius with astounding logic and deductive reasoning skills can seemingly pull information from thin air. And for Yuri it is the chase, the crime, the relationship between Holmes and Watson. It scores a 10 for each of us and it is delightful to get to watch together. In fact, besides documentary television (food network, science shows - classic Cosmos and How It’s Made) there aren’t really very many TV shows that we agree on, so we are like kids on Christmas morning when the next three episodes are released and we can hunker down with a pot of tea and watch.

I have been a longtime fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detecting duo having read many of the stories growing up, and Yuri was equally passionate about the Sherlock legacy since there is such a great cat and mouse with the criminal element. But what made me so excited about this particular telling of these oft-revisited  tales, is the love and delight that goes into making the show. We watched the special features on the DVD last night for Season 3 and hearing Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (the creators of the show) talk about their process, watching the table read and behind the scenes; it made me adore this team of creatives even more. It really seems to be a perfect storm of passion and playfulness. Actors, designers, writers, filmmakers all who want to elevate the show to the highest possible point, while staying true to their own vision.

It made me so happy to watch them at play in their focus. It is exactly what I strive to create when we put our own productions together under our Monkey Kingdom Productions banner. I believe it is a testament to the drive and clarity that Moffat and Gatiss have that they were able to pull together such an amazing team to work with on every level. I love seeing talented creative people who are so passionate and driven create brilliance. It is one of the reasons that on my list of folks I hope to get to work alongside are creatives like Terry Gilliam, Steven Chow, Jean-Pierre Jeunet as well as Moffat and Gatniss.

The paring of Benedict Cumberbatch with Martin Freeman as Sherlock and Dr. Watson is such fun to watch. Freeman is such an open honest actor as he is our window into the show, while Cumberbatch stoically leads with a reserved intellect that leaves you agape at Sherlock’s brilliance. Plus the fact that Amanda Abbington (Mary) and Freeman (Watson) are actually a couple in real life made both Yuri and I squeal with delight! May we be blessed to have successful careers that are able to intersect and flow like theirs. I have to recommend the show if you aren’t already watching it, please do yourself a favor and check it out, you have 9 episodes to dive into and three more currently in production! I will be honest that some of the episodes shine more than others, but they are each delicious morsels of adventure for you to dive into!

This is a pic from our last trip to London, we stopped by and visited the museum at 221B Baker Street, and I got my own sleuthing on…

So do check it out if you aren’t already (I may be speaking to the choir) but I hope you get wrapped up in the joyful jaunt!

365… days in the year, things to love about ME!

I have decided to do a year-long project on self-love and self-respect which I am calling my 365 Project! I began on Valentine’s Day this year, as a way to hold the space for myself to be my own Valentine and shower myself with love.

Today I am at Day 12, and I am having a very interesting experience. First, just the joy and excitement of discovery of what I might be able to love about myself each day is a fun and often daunting task. But second to that, I have discovered a whole clan of friends and family that have decided in their own way to go along on this journey by participating in their own 365 Projects, and I am so utterly grateful and honored that they thought this crazy little idea of mine was with merit.

As part of the project I am using a tracing of my body on a giant piece of paper that I fill in each day with that day’s unique lovable quality. Then I film my progress along with clips of things that come to mind, my reactions, my thoughts, my feelings. And I post it weekly(ish) on my YT channel. Thus holding space for myself to be accountable and yet transparent with my experiences.

And as an offshoot of the project, I am taking more care with myself, I am making choices that reflect the love and respect I am working through, which is bringing me more joy in experiencing the world and hopefully bringing more love into my interactions.

I would love to share my progress with you, 365 Project and find out if you have ever done a project, plan, gift, course, as a way to hold yourself to a higher level of love and value.

In 365 experience,

Tara :)

Connections….they make you stop, and pa[]se

It has been a while since I’ve posted, cause I have just gotten so darn’d busy… all good things but juggling life’s demands, working, and putting energy into my own projects takes its toll on the hours I have to put up my ramblings…. that said I had an encounter this week that made me stop and look at my whirlwind of a life and pause.

Which is good for me. Pausing. I don’t do it nearly enough…. take the way I write, for example… long sentences, drawn out, extra commas and descriptors for emphasis to make sure you get what I mean… and ellipses, cause I’m not quite done yet and I have more to cram in… :) haha — As my good friend Stephanie Sheh said to me, to quote a famous phrase, how you do one thing is how you do everything. Oh, well, tis who I am I guess, cramming as much in as I can (fun, work, joy, play, adventure, life!).

So this moment, this pause came a few nights ago at the grocery. I had popped in to pick up some necessities as I nursed Yuri back to health (ugh, sick is suck!) and as I walked the aisle to grab some veggies, an old woman walked past with her husband, and I smiled, as I often do while passing strangers, at her. She mumbled something to him and they walked on. Then not a moment later she was by my side, grabbing me, holding my arms in her hands. I was caught off guard but not scared, just more startled (I get stopped and talked to a LOT). Then she said over and over, “You look like my friend.

At first, I will admit, I thought perhaps she had Alzheimer’s and mistook me but after a moment her eyes shone and she started to tell me all about her friend Fancy Free who I reminded her of. She told me of Fancy’s family, Irish slaves, white, but slaves who were freed upon their 18th birthday, and how her grandmother got the name Free… Then about Fancy. How she never had any money, how she was always poor. And then about her own very different life and family in Eastern Europe and how most of them sank on a ship losing millions.

We chatted for several minutes. Mostly her regaling me with wonderful stories and me watching in awe. I congratulated her on her recent 80th birthday and we talked about our husbands still laughing at our jokes: the secret to a good marriage is a sense of humor, clearly.

And then her husband was back with their cart and I wished her well, and thanked her for stopping to share that moment with me. I reflected on the fact that I often get stopped. People see something in me, my eyes, my smile, that welcomes them to pause; even when I am not pausing myself. And I am gifted with a moment, even when unprepared to have one. A connection, although fleeting. Brief and powerful. And for that I am grateful. And being able to share this moment with you is my way of gratefully passing the pause…. PAUSE.

** side note, I went google image searching for pause, and so many [pause] button images came up, that while staring at my screen they actually started to look like tiny faces with big eyes…. so perhaps even the humble pause icon knows you have to take a moment, open your eyes, and breath! **

Science, Labels and Questions…

That seems to be the theme of my life lately…. SCIENCE which I revel in and get super excited about. Lables, which I wish I weren’t or wish I were…and questions. So many, about so many things, how we are all in process and figuring things out for better or worse, questioning, questioning and ever questioning….

Yuri and I recently visited Dubai, United Arab Emirates for a convention and I felt like all three collided in my face and brain…. At the same time as we were visiting the world’s tallest building, a science and engineering accomplishment of no small feat, I was observing people who had entirely different moral/ethical value label and a way of life, which left me questioning who’s right, who’s wrong, who cares….

It’s almost the Schrodinger’s Cat mixed with the age-old experiment adage that what is being observed inherently changes by nature of it’s being observed all mixed into one.  Can we all be right and wrong at the same time or is there really one way of being, and who is to say what that may or may not be. Can there really be only one way for humans to not want to hurt/oppress/rage/own/rule/rebel etc each other and instead for us to accept each of our differences as benefiting our individual efforts enough for us to all to just get along and kumbaya? (metaphorically speaking of course, since as an atheist I’ve never kumbaya’d myself…) :)

Which brings me back to labels….about a year ago my hubby Yuri and I embarked on a new food regime for health’s sake - his family history and research pointed to a possible good plan of the Esselstyn diet (basically a vegan diet but also no oil/nuts). We enthusiastically and quite successfully managed to follow the strict and specific plan, to some health benefit…BUT suddenly we were being LABELED as vegans… Not that I have anything against vegans, but I hate being thrown into a category that I may or may not fly the banner of myself (especially since I am doing this diet for MYSELF not as part of a group/cult/organization/agenda)… Suddenly if I chose to “cheat” on the strict meal options (cause I’m human and forever is a long time, and sometimes I want a piece of cake or even a juicy steak, even if 9.9 times out of 10 I naturally pick what would be considered a “vegan” choice), I was a hypocrite and *gasp* a liar… When I hadn’t ever claimed to be vegan in the first place — as true vegans are coming from an ethical/moral perspective as well as diet. So easy to stick a label on someone and then judge them for wavering from your idea of that label.

And that led me back to questions… Who knows what is really the best thing for us, clearly people can create observations (even scientific ones) that favor their opinions - quick lets make a study to “prove” what we want so we can be right and they can be wrong… But there are so many opposing beliefs, thoughts, proof, contracting evidence, who’s to say what the “right” thing is. And maybe what is really best for us is to live a wholehearted life where we make choices that are outside of labels, that are individual to us, that don’t force others to follow our way of thinking and that sometimes contradict our norm. 

Is there a science for that? Cause I would totally sign up! To the greater science of happiness :)! May we judge less, live more, and question often!

This is a RT of odditiesoflife’s post. But I had to say how much I appreciate the vision and artistry it takes to see the world and then be able to capture it - not only for what it is, but also for its higher artistic form. These images are just beautiful and I am thankful that there are people in this world who see fit to share this beauty with the rest of us. The proverbial Child’s Moon shots of things that are there but not often really looked at! ;)

The Art of the Perfect Wave

These amazing images of waves are the work of two different photographers. The first set is by David Orias. He relies on slow shutter speeds and the perfect light of sunrise or sunset to capture these waves off the coast of California.

The second set is by Pierre Carreau. He shoots waves with a variety of high speed cameras using various macro and wide angle lenses. These waves appear more like glass sculptures than liquid.

(via amandapalmer)

Rum-tum-tumble-y Tara….

So the start to this year took a rather tumble-y sort of way to get going. First it began far north in the chilly cli—- (not sure if it is clims climes climbs and not sure where to find said reference… errrr) the chilly climate? climbs sounds better, anyway. … of Iceland. Where Yuri and I spent our post-Christmas/anniversary/New Year’s celebrating, eating, relaxing and generally enjoying the comfy fun of bundling up in our winter weather wear, watching bonfires and fireworks galore (Iceland is KNOWN for their New Year’s Eve celebration of bonfires and fireworks. Go. It is amazing) and trying to see the northern lights. Alas - the weather wasn’t agreeable for us so see said aurora borealis and we did not, so the below image is as much for you as me to look at and ~le sigh~. Let’s both of us pretend for a moment we are standing near a river in Iceland gazing up at the chilly clear sky and we see this:

That was amazing, but then we were immediately thrust back into the middle of life: post-production on season 4 of our web-series, finishing post on our feature and generally auditions/meetings/and back-to-work productivity-ness. And on top of that there was the side-trip to Vegas to speak at NMX and participate in the IAWTV Awards (where though nominated, we didn’t win, but Yuri was a presenter!) And back again to life and all its craziness. AND about that time, my body decided to say NO. NO silly Tara running about hither and yon, NO! Take a break (what? I was just vacationing?!) A real break - stay in bed and sleep break. And that was it: I was sick, down for the count.

I resisted as best I could, but I am no match for the tiny germs of malice. So what I did do instead, was catch up on READING! And documentaries! And movies… oh my.

I read 2 books (that I loved!) Our friend’s Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz' Colin Fischer - about an autistic detective in high-school. Fun, great character study, and I am always a sucker for a good mystery! And Danielle LaPorte’s The Fire Starter Sessions, a serious pick-you-up-and-get-you-going-with-a-fire-under-your-bum motivational guide to creating your own success! I watched the films Butter (wonderful funny and touching) about butter carving and so much more, and Lars and the Real Girl (sweet, heartfelt and moving) about overcoming the pain of delusions. Both movies make for good rich movie-watching experiences and I hope you enjoy each of them as much as I did - very different, very good!

And the rest of the time while I was down for the count I watched Nova and National Geographic documentaries about national parks, stress and its link to health, Egypt (six part mini-series called Out Of Egypt by Egyptologist Kara Cooney, quite good if you like that sort of thing :) clearly I did as I watched all 6!) and space. All in all I had a wonderful time at BSU (being sick University) but I am quite done with my learning for this semester and eagerly await heading back out into the world so I can tumble my way thru this year, cause I have big plans for 2013, and sitting around isn’t on the list!

I hope you also have some fun things on your todo list, or goal board, or however it is you keep your dreams (and if catching up on books or movies are on there, I highly recommend the ones above)… somersaults away!

My favorite time of year…

As the holidays bear down on us full steam, I realize that I am filled with a sense of joy, anticipation, excitement, wonder and, to be honest, being totally overwhelmed.

I think with the traditional schedule of school growing up, we get so trained to “go back to school” in the fall: to be prepped to start projects, get a jump on things, and finish things up before the year ends. I know for me as soon as my scarves and sweaters come out, I feel the first-day-of-school fun jitters. Something is just around the corner, I can do anything, excitement is in the air, fun is to be had! I definitely start projects and have brainstorming hurricanes in the fall and fill up my to-do list like mad; but I love the fall for that: the feeling that I can get it all done, that I’m ready to tackle anything!

And to be honest the cute warm weather clothes, snuggly comforters on a slightly chilly morning, and spiced cider and pumpkin pie, does nothing to dull my love of the season. Throw in some apple picking or trick-or-treating, and I am one happy camper (or whatever it is I decide to dress up as for Halloween ;)!)

So, I am wishing each of you a wonderful fall. Take time to enjoy the crisp air, the foods of the season, the holiday prep, don’t get too bogged down by the stress of the season (and if you do, take a deep breath and go for a walk), and check off your to-do’s like mad as you race the year to its end. I am gonna sip on my tea, turn my space heater on, and give myself 10 more things to accomplish (cause that’s how I roll - and to be honest, I really like tasks, cause I LOVE checking them off as done!) Let’s do this! Fall, I am gonna rock you!

My hubby, the talented Yuri Lowenthal, has started his own blog about all the tasty foodstuffs he experiments (read: feeds me) with. So I thought I’d share in case you wanted to read up on his concoctions of yum! :)
This is just his most recent posting… there are now getting to be quite the collection (desserts, main dishes, and other fun treats) ENJOY!
esselblog: “The cook, the thief…”

In the interest of full disclosure, I stole this next recipe from the Internet. To be specific, from It’s because I miss Mac ‘n’ Cheese. More precisely, because Tara misses mac ‘n’ cheese. Now, as before, nobody’ll be fooled by this recipe into thinking that they’re… READ MORE

My hubby, the talented Yuri Lowenthal, has started his own blog about all the tasty foodstuffs he experiments (read: feeds me) with. So I thought I’d share in case you wanted to read up on his concoctions of yum! :)

This is just his most recent posting… there are now getting to be quite the collection (desserts, main dishes, and other fun treats) ENJOY!

esselblog: “The cook, the thief…”

In the interest of full disclosure, I stole this next recipe from the Internet. To be specific, from It’s because I miss Mac ‘n’ Cheese. More precisely, because Tara misses mac ‘n’ cheese. Now, as before, nobody’ll be fooled by this recipe into thinking that they’re… READ MORE

Choice is nice…

Possibilities are endless. That is something I try to remind myself when I am feeling down or disappointed (or even just bummed about having to do something I’d rather not — and especially when I feel like I “HAVE” to do something — like today, when I’d love to ditch my “life” and run to the beach and play). It has been interesting to notice that while we can get into a pattern or cycle that can make us feel constricted or closed in, we always have choice.

We choose to stay in that pattern for various reasons (we want to make the money we earn from the job, not cause conflict with the other person, it is easier than not doing it, etc…) but knowing that we have made the choice to take that action, we coooould run to the beach instead, but we’re not cause getting the work done iiiiiissss important to us, and it is mooooore important than the joy of frolicking on the beach (I guess), it somehow releases some of the negativity or frustration about “having” to do the thing we are upset about.

Sometimes I think it can be rather fulfilling to the devilish voice in my head to play with the idea of NOT doing the thing I “should” and what other wickedness I might get up to, but then I almost* always decide that getting the task done will lead to more positive things or goals that are more important to me down the line, and low and behold I “get ‘er done.” That said, *I am a sucker for afternoon naps and sometimes do choose that taking one usurps the immediacy of the task at hand.

And I’m certainly not trying to say you should just not do things in your life that you have taken responsibility for willy nilly, just to remember that the choice “to do or not to do” is yours. Which is why, as much as I wish I could be off playing hookey at the beach on this lovely Sunday afternoon, I am going to buckle down and get some work done (putting myself on tape for 2 on-camera auditions (yay! remember dear-devilish-voice-in-Tara’s-head: you want to audition, cause you want to get cast, cause you want to work as an actor, so auditions are goooooood!!), recording VO auditions, writing our newsletter, and dealing with book orders) cause ultimately I want those tasks to be completed since they move me that much closer to my goals and dreams.

And that is where I really realize that POSSIBILITIES are indeed endless. Since my dreams and goals become more possible with each step forward and they are limitless in scope.

whirlwind whirl winds

Whew! A whirlwind of a summer - between working on our successful Indiegogo campaign for Season 4 of our web-series as well as wrapping up Season 3 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about you can read more about Shelf Life here) traveling both for work and family, as well as filming in my first “Hollywood” movie -  it has flown by!

Shelf Life wrapped up smoothly - we were honored to be joined this season by Phil Morris and Aaron Douglas (for a special bonus episode airing this October!). And we were thrilled with the outpouring of support for our crowd-funding, from not only family/friends and fans of the show, but folks we have never met or heard of before. The world really does get smaller and smaller every day! :)

And traveling is always exciting… to be in new places with new people, regardless if it is for work or play.

  • We started this crazy adventure in San Diego with SDCC this summer. Such fun! Such craziness! Such Ka-Pow!
  • Then a trip to Arlington for a memorial service and though sad, it was great to be back in the state I lived in during junior high and my early high school. So green. So lush.
  • Then it was a trip to Montreal for a convention which is always an adventure. Such a lovely city. Such culture.
  • And then a visit to New York for family - my grandmother is 95!! Wowzers - I do hope I have her genes! And I realized that though I love the Big Apple, I am genuinely happy to live in Los Angeles now!) Such variety. Such excitement.
  • And lastly a 2 month late trip to Desert Hot Springs to celebrate my birthday (it is hard to take time to do that when you are surrounded by deadlines and tasks!) So we both needed the days to roast in the sun and float in the mineral pool like little lizards!  Such relaxation. Such beauty — This is a shot from the windmill fields in the CA desert. I love them!

Though I will say, traveling under our new lifestyle choice has been tricky. We have had to plan detailed eating plans and bring as much prepared food with us as possible - eating out is particularly tricky as oil and sugar are pesky things to avoid in food! It made us more conscious of our eating habits and we were pleasantly surprised by chefs who went above and beyond to make sure we were fed!

And in the midst of the various trips, I shot a movie!! Now when I say my first “Hwood” flick: I have been in tons of independent features - but this is the first film I have been in that has A-list talent and a budget of more than what’s in the filmmakers pocket :P so it was a wonderful learning experience to be on the set and watch them work, and I was in my bliss getting to play in front of the camera.

But I can truthfully say I’m glad to be home, and snuggling down for the fall. I love sweater-weather and I am eager to buckle down and work to get some really big dreams closer to realization! So let the winds of fall blow and whirl me closer to my goal(s)!