Monday, April 26, 2010

MY BLOG; MY DO-OVER by (me!) sandra, tvgp

if, like me, you can't fall asleep without going over the day's conversations and realizing in what places you messed up

then, like me, you have yet another reason to cherish your blog

because your blog can be your do-over. you don't have to wish, or hope, or pray

you just have to blog.

let me provide some examples:

a long time ago, i was in the company of one of those ivory tower princeton/harvard graduate types discussing our mutual passion, writing

when the ivory guy asks me if i know [plug in some famous writer in history that all ivory grads know here]

and i answered honestly, as is my nature, "no."

and that's when the ivory guy looks at me like

like, well, how can you even call yourself a writer then, and he says with a great bit of snobby attitude,

"you don't want to tell me that!"

/oh gosh... stop me if i've written this story before?


in the moment i responded politely, as is my nature


since i have this blog and i can create my very own do-over, why then, i'm going to take just a moment to apologize to God for my language

because what i should have said was

"why? who the f#& do you think you are?"

and i realize

realized a long time ago -my audience

my audience is not scholars or college graduates or famous writers. my audience is young, lost, insecure, mass-media/culturally brain-washed, struggling, authentic, average but hopeful people like me

more heart than brain.

more curious than knowledgable.

out to express vs. impress -know what i mean?


do-over #2

much more recent -in answering the question, "when are you going to start making money for yourself?"

-this vs. raising money for others, like the tri valley haven.

and it perhaps seems odd to some people, that i'm raising money for others while i myself play the beat the overdraft charge game with my bank

but especially in regard to something like our upcoming exhibit/fundraiser diapers to diapers

i went in knowing this:

money. and more specifically -profit-seeking, can really interfer with certain creative manifestations.

with something like this, how can you possibly decide who gets what? it was my idea, but monica took the picture... we both found models... she/others helped with equipment, i helped with t-shirts/location, she helped with underwear/graphic design..., sponsor helped... there are 9 different models/families.. there is arzo giving us space, a band providing live music, a chef providing appetizers...

it seem to me from the very start, if we could remove ourselves from wanting to make money, and instead let the whole thing serve as a fundraiser for the tri valley haven -no one participating would be let down or would feel taken advantage of

instead everyone would be volunteering their time/talent/resources for a great cause, and this created a completely level playing field, as they say, for all participants

and i'm not guessing, but know, that this was the correct decision for this particular creative project.

to the extent it brings publicity/attention to monica dawn as a remarkable, up and coming photographer

or myself as an artist, or anyone of the volunteers for anything

this to me is a win/win.

i want to pause here to recommend it -fundraising for a cause you respect/love/feel passionate about.

the benefits are layered

the most important to me, is the one i mentioned above -when you are working with an all volunteer team, and no one individual stands to gain more than another, but rather everyone is serving a larger cause

the feeling everyone brings, the spirit and enthusiasm with which they participate is -better. it's just better all the way around

and when you are fundraising vs. seeking personal profit, your opportunities for advertising/promoting your event are supported in that spirit, vs. a business negotiation which can pretty much eat up potential profits anyway

your audience and/or customers get to feel better too... because they know their time/attention/dollars are going to a larger cause vs. individuals

the organization you fundraise for receives attention/money/recognition which almost any/every non-profit organization is very greatful to receive

and the volunteers fundraising receive attention/recognition, which can potentially result in personal/professional growth & greater opportunties

to me it is a win/win/win.

but i didn't get a chance to explain it this way, when i was asked, "when are you going to start making money for yourself?"

i only said, and truly believe, "i know that will come."

and i really look forward to reimbursing and giving back to the variety of people who have been helping me.



Monday, April 19, 2010



first thing i need you to do, is look at the woman in line, about 7 or 8 people behind me, wearing a light colored, long sleeve shirt over a bright blue t-shirt, holding joyce meyer's book, purse strap on her left shoulder, blond hair.

find her? well, that is kathy littlejohn, and i can tell you what she's thinkin' as she's lookin' at me

she's thinkin'

that stinker-pot-of-a-christian! she just cut in front of 500 other people! to think i helped her at all! -or perhaps her thoughts are much worse depending on her maturity level...

the second i uploaded these pictures and saw her in line... lookin' directly at me, i covered my heart, then my face, then just started laughing in embarrassment

but i can explain! i can explain!

anyone who knows me even a spreckle knows i'm not the type to cut in line; ever. /save that occasion liz lifted the rope for me spontaneously at the avatar movie

but other than that, really.

why just last weekend i waited

and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, in line with my son for the lego convention at the marriott in fremont. and it was a cold and rainy day... but we waited some one hour and fifteen minutes. patiently. enjoying each other's company.. without complaint. and not once did it cross my mind to try and find some way we could sneak ahead, cut in front, get in early...

and the thing is

when i drove to concord around 11am for joyce meyer's 12p book signing at the sam's club

and learned that some people had arrived as early as 6:30am to stand in line

and realized i way underestimated how many people, how much time...

well, the thing is

i didn't once consider finding a way to sneak ahead or cut in this line under this circumstance either. swear it.

i was most willing to get my number, stand in line, take my turn. -but i do admit

when i looked at the line which swirled around and in and out of the rows and rows of products, and i looked at my phone for the time, and i calculated what time i would need to be back in my car in order to pick up the kids from school on time

the odds were not in my favor.

but! let me give this a go, see what happens. maybe the line will move faster than i think. and but! again, because had this one book signing line been the only one i had to stand in, maybe everything would be different

unfortunately the book signing line was the last of three lines i would need to stand in. -because a) i'm not a sam's club member and the one day pass would not print from my computer [big error reading] , and b) i didn't bring a copy of the book with me, i had to buy it there

so.. long story short, i befriend kathy littlejohn in line. she IS a sam's club member. she HAS a membership card. AND! she has been a partner in joyce meyer's ministries for some 14 years i think she told me.

so of course this kind and thoughtful christian woman allowed me to give her my cash and she purchased the receipt i needed before i could stand in the next line to show my receipt and collect my book, so i could then stand in the long, long, book signing line

and while we were chattin' kathy littlejohn did show me her book signing line number: 22.

like, she was #22 out of some 500 numbers handed out. -and she said to me, "i can pay for the book for you, but i can't let you join me in line"

"no problem. i really appreciate your help." i told her. -and truth be told, i never counted on it, and i would have never asked

so how did i end up in front of her?!?


just about the time i was showing my receipt and collecting my book -which took place a few feet from where

oh! look! here comes dave & joyce!

and so i hurry quick grabbed my camera for a shot.. moving ever closer to the front.

click. click.

and while i'm standing there -near the front. -well, i start to over-hear a lot of upset from the people first in line

stranger in line #1: "the numbers don't matter anymore... they canceled the number thing"

stranger in line #2: "what!? that's not fair!"

stranger in line #3: "first come. first serve. the numbers don't matter"

and i admit to thinkin

to wonderin'

to realizin' that i will not be able go to the very back of this line and get out of here in time to pick up the children

so i just kind of stood there -near the front, thinkin', wonderin' realizin' that i was going to have to

but before i could think the whole thing through

the man in charge of taking pictures for people in line, grabbed my camera from my hand

and the woman in charge of handing our books to joyce for signing, pulled my new book from my hand

it all went very quickly i promise you. -and i had about a split-second to decide whether i was going to do the write thing, or the smart thing

and so i said to myself, and to Jesus... i am so sorry, please forgive me, but

thank you! thank you! thank you!

and next thing i know dave put out his hand and i shook his hand, and think i said, "pleasure to meet you"

and then one step write, and there was joyce, sitting write next him, and, just as i had rehearsed on the drive over, i said something like,

"i just want to tell you how much i appreciated the cookie-cutter anaology, and how much i think about being Jesus pretty little tea cup"

[you just have to watch her program to know the value of these presentations; stories]

and she smiled, and i smiled. she handed me my signed (although not personalized) book, and the man handed me back my camera

and next thing you know i'm on the 680 headed back home. -and i was just giggling and smiling, sayin' thank you Jesus

because even though it wasn't write, and it wasn't fair

it was very helpful. and i couldn't help but register it as God's favor -shining on me. -me!-

so my apologies to everyone who waited, to everyone i unintentionally cut in front of

and then a prayer for a little unfair favor to shine on each of you.

hallelujah & amen!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


and in honor of this upcoming annual walk,

a link to my post from 2008 -also selected and included for publication in the social cause diet.

Friday, April 02, 2010

DIAPERS TO DIAPERS PUBLIC DEBUT exciting to (me!) sandra,tvgp

the feature photograph, diapers to diapers, for our upcoming photography exhibit, may 22nd, will make its public debut at the bankhead theater in livermore, tomorrow, sat. april 3rd, at a silent auction held prior to the performance of the vagina monologues

both the silent auction and the performance are fundraisers for the tri valley haven.

i could not be more pleased with how this photograph turned out

just as i hoped!

truth, beauty, humor, joy; emphasis on truth.

"9 real women and girls have put their butts on the line for a great cause!"

that is, 9 real females from our community, age 2 to 74, -including yours truly, your truly's daughter and yours truly's mom..

served as volunteer underwear models to contribute to an extraordinary visual art narrative and fundraiser for the tri valley haven

diapers to diapers was a vision i had and shared with my creative co-workers at our christmas dinner in late december 2009. -the idea was received with immediate interest, enthusiasm and willingness

but as i've mentioned before, -having a vision, and having a vision manifest are two entirely different things. the first much easier than the second,

but i did feel God's green lights on this project from that initial conversation at christmas. -from the moment i saw the look in monica dawn's eyes -her creative mind & eye immediately running with this idea -turning it from this one feature photo into a full gala and exhibit

we shook and hugged on the idea at the christmas dinner, and then when time and life allowed in the new year, we started on a hunt for a sponsor, and put an initial call out for volunteer models

i can't say my potential models or sponsors received my idea as enthusiastically as my co-workers did at the christmas dinner. my co-workers understood my vision immediately

but sponsors...

well, when i mentioned underwear models... wrong ideas seem first to surface in the imaginations of prospective sponsors -and misconstrued, i recognized how it could put a local business sponsor in question with the community

it seemed counterproductive to try to explain to someone who didn't understand write away, how innocent, creative, beautiful, honest, humorous the visual narrative was...

and so didn't God work around this in the most creative way, -as what we ended up with was... an anonymous sponsor (thank you!)

(sponsor;check. now for models...)

i anticipated the most difficult model to recruit would be the grandma we would ask to model diapers for senior citizens, and what i thought, is that i'd be spending hours, possibly days, at our local senior citizen centers searching for that one spirited, carefree soul that would think this was something fun to be a part of

first few requests went something like this

"no way!" "are you kidding?" "what? i don't get it"

but i just knew that someone, someone, someone, someone, would eventually step up to the plate

-sure enough, monica dawn called me with the greatest green light information, "my grandma agreed to be our diaper model" (you rock grandma bragg!)

(senior diaper/check... infant/toddler diaper hunt begins..)

my sister, enrollment director at a pre-school, with access to many families with young children put a call out on our behalf, and in no time, we had our toddler diaper & pull-ups' models (thank you moms, thank you girls!)

then more of monica's family stepped up to serve as our day-of-the-week and new mom underwear models

a beautiful co-worker that said she might be our thong model -came through with the commitment

my courageous, beautiful mom agreed to be our 60's underwear model

and it seemed that within a stretch of two weeks, we had almost all of our models lined up and committed, save only a search for our maternity model

meanwhile, i'm working on finding a private~ish, safe, attractive outdoor location for our photo shoot because in my vision, it was definitely an environmental; not a studio shot

but, by the way clouds were starting to cluster and darken in pleasanton, i started thinkin' maybe God intended an indoor kind of thing

again.. when you mention underwear models in an area this conservative, no one like.. opens their doors, hands you a key

so, without lying, but without being overly specific, i met with a property owner here in pleasanton, explained our needs, explained the amount of models/families, explained the amount of space/time we would need, explained it was a fundraiser for the tri valley haven, and

more green lights (thank you vera!)

-so- on the rainy, cold, day of our february photo shoot, we had a warm, lovely, empty office building with freshly painted walls and new hardwood floors.

took a few of us to carry in the equipment for the shoot... the lights, the green screen, the bleachers... (thank you! kelly, danielle, taryn, rachel..)

and of course we had music and snacks (thanks girls! thanks mom!)

butt, ~most importantly: we had all of our beautiful, real and very wonderful volunteer underwear models.

well, almost all. 8 out of the envisioned 9.

8 just will NOT work... has to be 9. has to! - stay true to initial vision

-yes... i could settle for 8.... but what an awful feeling consumed me at the thought of this defeat; this giant compromise

think... think... think. -maybe we can still make it work ...

who would make the best surrogate maternity model?

that's when i heard the music

from the heavens

(or was it on the radio, from our hometown station)

">sandra's gotta big ol' butt, oh yeah..."

and so thank you to the extra pair of beige, tiger stripped, waist-huggers, my mom brought along

i was able to put my butt on the line with the rest of our volunteer underwear models.

and this!

this allowed monica to put her God given gift in full gear and start shooting.

what a treat to see her genius in action! -such a gift with people of all ages; with posing,

such a gift for creating the mood and capturing the story. (clearly her grandmother's granddaughter)

and great sports all around, because, what we models had to work with was:
a cold, steel, bleacher and big blank green screen

what we had to imagine was:

all of our beautiful butts on a fallen tree, in the great outdoors. -because thank you to God's green lights and monica's green screen

even though we were inside for the actual shoot,
the photograph stays true to my original vision; outside.

~ naturally ~

9 real females, infant to senior, diapers to diapers; -life in the great outdoors.


speaking of life

that is the title of a magnificent poem written by barbara bragg, our senior citizen diaper model, inspired by our feature photograph


Life goes by in the blink of an eye,
from diapers to diapers then gone.
But the time between
takes your breath away,
as you make your way along.

Little girls grow and dream of the day
when they turn into women at last.
But the years seem so long
as they go day by day,
Oh why don't they move by fast?

Then you finally grow up,
wed the love of your life
and start a family
and the babies come and the diapers start
that's the job of a loving wife.

Then you nuzzle their neck
and you kiss their cheeks,
and rock them to sleep at night.
And you dry their tears and calm their fears
and teach them to do what's right

Then the babies grow up
and have babes of their own
and grandma is there to jump in
Because duty calls and you can't not help,
and it's back to diapers again.

Now the babes have grown up
and have lives of their own
but grandma's in diapers again,
But this time it's different and not any fun,
'cause the diapers are now her own.

Yes, life goes by in the blink of an eye,
from diapers to diapers then gone,
But the memories we leave with the ones we love,
go on and on and on.


she gets it.

and what a great memory we all created together in the making of this extraordinary photograph.

i noticed, that while some of our younger models were heading to the bathroom to change clothes, feeling a little self conscious

grandma bragg was as carefree and spirited as i want to be... stayed write there in the room, and put on her diaper and hopped up on the bleacher, and visited with all of us, and just helped create such a comfortable, cool, playful, joyful environment

have added her, and monica, and everyone at, and everyone in this photograph to my personal list of she~roes.

TBTG! happy easter. ~amen.