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Canvas Rebel Interview

Before the end of summer, I received a letter from an editorial at CanvasRebel magazine to interview me a second time. The CanvasRebel series was designed to go beyond the personal story covered last time and to highlight more attention to the artists and creatives in the community. Last year, their team contacted me for an interview featured in VoyageAustin. So I was delighted to partake in another interview and hope you all enjoy the read.

Alright, Nicolette thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Are you happier as a creative? Do you sometimes think about what it would be like to just have a regular job? Can you talk to us about how you think through these emotions?

Yes, I’m happy to be an artist. Do I wish the path were (financially) easier for artists? Yes, of course. I’m an underground artist. Not a celebrity or an icon. Outside corporate, state, publishing, or PR gigs– I’ve worked many “regular” jobs for income: a hotel, a jewelry store, a country club, bars, restaurants, fine dining, cafes, and the list goes on and on. So yeah, I’ve wished that the road was shorter and more manageable for most artists to make a living based on their creative talents. I wish it were easier for artists to thrive in the corporate world and enjoy the same financial security as someone in tech or sales. Some people get lucky with connections or Fate–but most of us have to struggle along the way and work harder to achieve financial goals. Most artists have to invest a lot of time in a series of successes, setbacks and mistakes. And the struggle or the wait isn’t always fun; it can be scary and discouraging. But in the end, hard work always pays off through the ups and downs. So long as you keep going, even when you fail. And learn from each mistake. It’s O.K. to get jaded, but don’t give up. Focus on the positive and rekindle the spark, the light, the drive, and the passion to carry on.

Emotionally, I feel blessed and fulfilled with diverse artistic talents. Thankfully, I discovered my purpose in life early on. The arts help(ed) me express my voice and identity, which gave me self-confidence and self-empowerment. Art is transcendental and can heal us, give us a safe place to display emotions and create magic in what can be a melancholy world. I would be too repressed and lost without writing, singing, and dancing to my love of music. Without art, without the freedom of imagination or daydreaming, I would be a tormented spirit. Therefore, art is essential to me, like sleep, water, nutrients, fitness, money and oxygen.

Nicolette, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?

My professional writing career began in 2005 at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). I joined the District, an award-winning student newspaper, and started to get published in my undergraduate program. The Georgia College Press Association Conference awarded an article I wrote for District newspaper 2nd place for Best News Article – Objective Reporting. I was also the first SCAD student ever selected to serve as an Editorial Intern at Savannah Magazine. After graduation, I left Georgia to begin an internship with the Editorial department at Texas Monthly magazine in ATX. Then I was hired as a contract employee to work in their Custom Publishing department for the Texas Tour & Meeting Guide Magazine. I wrote three stories for the Texas Monthly website, which was exciting!

SCAD and Texas Monthly are the launchpads of my professional journey as a writer. First, however, I began my artistic journey in performing arts, tracing back to pre-k to college. Born and raised in Texas and NYC—I’m an artist: writer, dancer, vocalist, thespian & (amateur) photographer. I’ve done a little modeling, too, and was accepted by Barbizon Modeling in the 1990s but declined their offer. As a little girl, I was fortunate to be exposed to a colorful variety of music, artwork, and cultures. A third-generation American, I’m a Latina, Lebanese girl that has always adored theatre arts, dance and music. So, it began with theatre, music/voice classes, choir, and endless dance lessons, year after year. I tried the piano, too, but enjoyed singing and dancing far more than sitting still in one place. Although, I wish I had mastered at least one instrument. Initially, I was accepted to SCAD to study Performing Arts. Halfway through my sophomore year, I switched my major to Writing. I went from a mediocre GPA to qualifying for the Dean’s List five quarters in a row. It showed on paper how much I loved writing! Which was interesting since I am dyslexic.

Internationally published in the United States and Europe, I’ve obtained 110+ publications thus far. For 17 years, I’ve interviewed an extensive list of talent and collaborated with companies, directors, and PR teams from The Hollywood Reporter, National Geographic Channel, Prevention Magazine, HBO Films, SXSW, The David Lynch Foundation, Cine Las Americas, The University of Texas at Austin and more. Presently, my portfolio entails 12 national awards or scholarships, including both individual and group projects. Obtaining two degrees from the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), I earned a Master of Arts degree in Arts Administration & a B.F.A. in Writing.

But yeah, I’ve loved performing arts and playing sports for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I was always torn between the arts and athletics.  I would bounce back and forth between my two greatest loves. I played many sports, but swimming, volleyball, and dance were my favorites! My first swim team in Kindergarten was the Shavano Sharks, then West Austin Athletics, until my Master’s swim team in college at St. Stephen’s. When I finally had to choose in college, I chose the arts. A decision I do not regret; alas, it was one of the most challenging choices of my young adult life. I am still an athlete—that energy in my heart will never die. But art heals me and gives me a purpose in a way sports cannot. However, dance is a sport, too, not just a form of art. As an adult, I took belly dancing classes with Stacey Lizette and still love to dance with my finger cymbals!

It’s been a wild adventure since I devoted my heart to the arts. One of the most incredible moments of my career was in 2010 when my editors at WideWorld Magazine in London, UK, commissioned me to interview a photographer for National Geographic and a sponsored athlete for The North Face, Jimmy Chin. They flew me to Washington, DC, where I interviewed Chin before attending a banquet at National Geographic headquarters in his honor. In 2019, he won an Oscar for his Documentary, “Free Solo.” It’s amazing! This interview made me internationally published in the US and Europe, a massive step in my career. Plus, I’ve adored Nat Geo since childhood, and this was a dream come true. Mr. Chin was also very kind to me, and I remember that kindness because I was so new to the game and trying not to look or sound like a rookie. Another great day was when I got to interview Greta Gerwig on the red carpet at the Austin Film Festival about her “Lady Bird” film debut. The story was published in The Hollywood Reporter and IMDb.com. I could keep going with happy memories from freelance writing!

In hindsight, my career is diverse and transcends many industries, but the end goal is the arts. Customer service and communications are another big focus in my career as I’ve worked for companies like Nordstrom, Hotel Van Zandt (Kimpton/IHG) and Kendra Scott. I love to transcend industries and learn new skills like event planning, sales, marketing, design, and promotional publicity. I’m a great assistant, too, as I’m very organized and efficient. Alas, some companies see my desire for knowledge and change as flighty, like a butterfly, but I choose to see it: I’m adaptable to environments. I’m intelligent and skilled. And I bring excellence, kindness, and intellect to anything I set my mind to.

Lastly, I enjoy all forms of writing, but my favorite writing genres to create entail arts & entertainment, literary journalism, travel, magical realism, and nonfiction. I’m eager to rekindle my spot on stage or behind the camera! Lately, I’ve been recording music. But I have a lot of goals to achieve in the next ten years, personally and professionally. I’ve been doodling costume ideas for my voice and dance routines. Due to the pandemic and personal reasons, I’ve been quiet for the last few years, and I’m ready for some noise and to meet some new creative talent. It took me a long time to realize that it’s OK to be an introverted writer and an extroverted performing artist.

What’s a lesson you had to unlearn and what’s the backstory?

A good writer can have dyslexia. Unfortunately, there is a stigma: all dyslexic writers are destined to fail due to bad grammar and the inability to read or spell. This is a false narrative I had to rebuke. It took time and still does, considering most of society holds misguided views about dyslexia. And dyslexia doesn’t go away. Thus, my dubious and faulty grammar will follow me all my life. I wrote a story about it called “Dare to Dream with Dyslexia.”

A dyslexic writer is an oxymoron for most. Dyslexia is often associated with incompetence. It took many years, tears, and accolades to believe that I’m a writer. When it came to my writing, my confidence was intermittent and inconsistent for years. One day I felt good and knowledgeable. Another day I felt lousy, often depending on the company I kept. People can enjoy talking over me and correcting my grammar, even when they understand me. Finally, after living with dyslexia my whole life, I sought an Educational Diagnostician for an official diagnosis. I fall into the category of 2E dyslexia, which stands for twice-exceptional. According to the International Dyslexia Association, “Twice-exceptional or 2e is a term used to describe students who are both intellectually gifted (as determined by an accepted standardized assessment) and learning disabled, including students with dyslexia.” Statistics estimate that about 2-5% of the population has this form of dyslexia, maybe higher.

It’s funny because I taught myself the alphabet and how to read when I was three. With the use of Hooked on Phonics and the guidance of my parents: I was fully literate before elementary school. By the time I turned four, I was reading chapter books on my own. I asked my parents to go to the library for fun. The catchy slogan, “Hooked on Phonics worked for me!” is true. So, how can society deem someone like me as lacking intelligence when I taught myself how to read at the age of three? And yet, they do question my abilities. C’est la vie!

Flash forward to adulthood, a story I addressed in detail within my previous VoyageAustin interview. After years of success, suddenly, no company would tell me why I wasn’t selected for writing or editorial work. Each time I came in silver or bronze, I kept asking about each rejection so that I could work on the issue. But I kept getting ghosted, or sent an insincere PR note without explanation. All that time, writing samples I’d submitted to prospective employers for free—writings that took hours, days, or weeks to complete—and the editors or hiring managers didn’t even reply as to why I wasn’t hired—only a generic rejection letter.

I asked myself: Does that seem right to you, Mallow? Do you want to work for a company that asks for free work without the respect of a critique or an honest rejection? The answer is a bonafide, no. Finally, last summer, a hiring manager from a book publishing company told the recruiter to inform me. I was not selected because I made too many grammar errors for hire. Sadly, I’ve heard these words since the seventh grade: your grammar is lacking. Ain’t nothing new. I’m aware that people love to hate on my grammar. I simply didn’t know how to fix it. No one knew I was dyslexic, even me, till my AP English teacher in 11th grade. Until then, I was able to fool the system and myself into believing that I knew grammar.

Last summer, when I read the email from the recruiter about my grammar or lack thereof. For the first time during the interview process, especially since I had nothing to lose, I confessed my secret: I am dyslexic. To much surprise, the recruiter told me that dyslexia is a superpower and nothing to be ashamed of. She advised me to check out Grammarly, which I now pay for and utilize. The recruiter also advised me to be forthright with employers about dyslexia. In private, I cried because I was heard, seen, and acknowledged. And I thanked her for the kindness and professionalism. They asked if I wanted special accommodations, but I declined.

Ultimately, I’m grateful because now I can use Grammarly and overcome these challenges. Finally, I found some peace of mind and ease with Grammarly. Yes, the truth hurts to read. I’ve heard it for far too long. It’s disheartening that my grammar can overshadow my accolades. And it makes me sad for younger generations, the children, because what kind of message does that send out? “Kids, you can be anything you want to be, so long as you don’t have a learning disability.”

Fact: A good writer can have dyslexia. Unlike grammar, a heart and a voice cannot be taught in schools.

How can we best help foster a strong, supportive environment for artists and creatives?

To better support artists, creatives, and a thriving creative ecosystem–we can accept others’ uniqueness and oddities rather than rebuke them. Artists are different. Society often wants everyone to be the same because differences can make us uncomfortable, afraid, or insecure. In the animal world, we have many species, and each is created in its own design. Why does society often expect humans to all be the same? Artists are their own kind of breed. Accept us for who we are. And as we become more accepting of others, we become more accepting of ourselves. Love begets love. This idea of acceptance applies to my fellow artists as well because we need reminders to be open-minded, too.

We can also better support artists and creatives by showing monetary support. Buy a ticket to a movie, go to a live music show or donate to NPR. Share the wealth. Sadly, many corporate environments (outside the arts industries) claim they like to hire artists/creatives but do not and will not. Just like a lot of companies say they don’t discriminate because of age, gender, disability, etc., yet they do. Please be open-minded to change and give us a chance and hire more artists; those who work hard will impress you with our creative thinking, work ethic and visionary ideas. We have far more skills than paintbrushes, music and drawings. Let us showcase your companies!

Featured

Voyage Austin Interview

Imagery from VoyageAustin Magazine. Photography of Nicolette Mallow taken by Vivian’s Muse.

Last December, I received a note from an editorial team to inquire if I wanted to partake in a literary project called the “Inspiring Stories” series published by VoyageAustin Magazine. For the first time in 16 years, someone else interviewed me. It was so exciting since no one has ever asked in detail about my artistic journey. People usually only inquire about my writing career and forget about my performing arts history. I’ve conducted hundreds upon hundreds of interviews, but as far as I can recall. VoyageAustin Magazine is my first non-work-related interview where I was the subject matter instead of the interviewer. Perhaps on a few occasions like at The University of Texas at Austin. I spoke on behalf of the company. But this was the first time anyone interviewed me. http://voyageaustin.com/interview/check-nicolette-mallows-story/


HI NICOLETTE, PLEASE KICK THINGS OFF FOR US WITH AN INTRODUCTION TO YOURSELF AND YOUR STORY.

My writing career began in 2005 at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). I joined the District, an award-winning student newspaper, and started to get published in my undergraduate program. After graduation, I left Georgia to begin an internship with the Editorial department at Texas Monthly magazine in ATX. Then I was hired as a contract employee to work in their Custom Publishing department for a different magazine. I wrote three stories for the Texas Monthly website and that was exciting! SCAD and Texas Monthly are the launchpads of my professional journey as a writer. 

Internationally published in the United States and Europe, I’ve obtained 110+ publications thus far, and counting. For 16 years, I’ve interviewed an extensive list of talent and collaborated with companies, directors, and PR teams from The Hollywood Reporter, National Geographic Channel, Prevention Magazine, HBO Films, SXSW, The David Lynch Foundation, Cine Las Americas, The University of Texas at Austin and more. Presently, my portfolio entails 12 national awards or scholarships, including both individual and group projects. Obtaining two degrees from the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), I earned a Master of Arts degree in Arts Administration and a B.F.A. in Writing. But, writing is just one of the art forms I enjoy creating. 

From childhood until college, I focused primarily on performing arts. Born and raised in Texas and NYC—I’m an artist: writer, dancer, vocalist, thespian, model & (amateur) photographer. As a little girl, I was fortunate to be exposed to a colorful variety of music, artwork, and a beautiful array of cultures. A third-generation American, I’m a Latina, Lebanese girl that has always adored theatre arts, dance and music. 

Even at three years old, I knew I wanted to be a bellydancer after seeing the dancers and their costumes. My mummy says I ran to her at Disney in Orlando and declared, “I’m going to dance like that someday, too!” A year later, when I was four, my family took me to see The Nutcracker. Immediately, I was hooked. I needed to be part of the action on stage. I needed to dance! That desire only became more intense after seeing Phantom of the Opera at The Majestic Theater. Then, I wanted to be a vocalist, too. The makeup, the lights, the costumes and the music were hypnotic to me.

Anytime I saw a film, concert, or music video that inspired and enticed me. I wanted to be in it. Life just seemed so much more enthralling within the art world. And it is, for me. Tantalized by theatre arts and the world of music, beginning in pre-K and throughout elementary school, I partook in ballet classes. I attended music and voice lessons at the Jewish Community Center, even though I’m not Jewish. I was also part of our church choir. We showcased big theatrical productions in the winter and spring, as well as hymns every Sunday. 

When I got to middle school, I hid myself away artistically, at first, overwhelmed by the culture shock and the harsh adjustment from San Antonio to Lake Travis. In private, I auditioned for Barbizon Modeling and was accepted. In private, I kept singing and dancing. But I chose to focus on volleyball, swimming and academics, instead. In high school, I came out of my shell, once again. After I quit competitive volleyball and stopped swimming at West Austin Athletics, I re-focused my energy on performing arts. I became an Honor Thespian. And I think my favorite production we showcased was Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got the Will? and I got to play Marlene Turnover. 

So, it began with theatres, classes and choirs, year after year. I tried the piano, too, but enjoyed singing and dancing far more than sitting still in one place. Although, I wish I had mastered at least one instrument. Anyway, I grew up in a house of musicians and artists. I am very fortunate to have grown up with such gifted, talented and intelligent individuals. I could go on and on with praise about each member of my family. 

But yeah, as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the performing arts and playing sports. As a kid, I was always torn between the arts and athletics. My first swim team in Kindergarten was the Shavano Sharks, up until my Master’s swim team in college at St. Stephen’s. I would bounce back and forth between my two greatest loves. In college, when I finally had to choose, I chose the arts. A decision I do not regret; alas, it was one of the most challenging choices of my young adult life. True, I am still an athlete—that energy in my heart will never die—but my career and my greatest passions lie within the art world. Art heals me and gives me a purpose in a way sports cannot. However, dance is a sport, too, not just a form of art. Regardless, it’s been a wild adventure ever since I devoted my life to the arts.

ALRIGHT, SO LET’S DIG A LITTLE DEEPER INTO THE STORY – HAS IT BEEN AN EASY PATH OVERALL, AND IF NOT, WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES YOU’VE HAD TO OVERCOME?

I laughed when I read this question. No, it has most certainly not been a smooth road, and it still isn’t, especially with COVID-19. Artists all over the world can relate to this struggle. First, the most obvious challenge is that I’m a dyslexic writer, an oxymoron. It took many years, tears, and many successes for me to fully believe: I’m a writer. When it came to my writing, my confidence was intermittent, inconsistent. Even if I always knew from birth, I’m an artist and an athlete. I used to doubt my writing skills. 

Writers are supposed to be flawless at grammar. My dyslexia was and is a constant challenge. For decades, there has been a harsh stigma about dyslexia: if you have dyslexia, you must be incompetent, which is far from the truth. Earlier this year, I saw an article with a video featuring a dyslexic woman, Laura Schifter, that graduated from Harvard. She spoke of her struggles with dyslexia. Right before she attended Ivy League Harvard, an older man said something to Schifter: “Well, if you’re going to Harvard, then you must not have dyslexia.” Oy! It was hard to watch, but she talks about the brutal comments and the misinformed judgments many people hold towards dyslexia. 

For years, I kept my dyslexia a secret from employers. I was advised that no one wants to hire a dyslexic writer. It was implied most editors see a dyslexic writer like a deaf musician, a colorblind photographer, or a one-legged runner. I heard from other professionals that employers see a writer like me as too much work. It’s unfair, it’s wrong, and it’s saddening—but it’s the harsh truth. So I kept my dyslexia secret, which ended up hurting me in the end. Sometimes, I still get hate mail from a reader like, “You should learn to improve your grammar if you consider yourself a writer.” Or people will stop to correct me, mid-sentence, while I’m talking. I’m often treated as incompetent by insensitive people. But, I do not see myself as disabled or having a disability. Regardless, I am blithely aware that my grammar is a bit more “colorful” than most professional writers. 

Thinking back on it, I was always writing. I even had some of my little chapter books laminated. My first research paper for this gifted and talented program was about Ramses II (Ramses The Great). Obviously, I had assistance from my parents, but I still picked the topic, read about it, and put together the project. I’ve always loved reading and writing! And no one should be able to take that away because I’m dyslexic. It makes me sad for younger generations, the children, because what kind of message does that send out. “Kids, you can be anything you want to be, so long as you don’t have a learning disability.” 

It’s funny because I learned to read at the age of three using Hooked on Phonics. So I was already reading chapter books on my own before I even got to elementary school. When I read books, I felt like I was entering this other world of daydreams and imagination. Writing, the written word, was a safe place to have a voice of my own. I loved my diaries! Art is a healthy escape for me from the real world. Through artwork, I can create, express, or alter my reality; convey my mind, heart, and soul in a safe place: light or dark. 

Sometimes it can be frustrating to create art when your mind gets the words, times, and tenses all mixed up. I advise reading aloud, helps you with pronunciation for public speaking, and catch errors or issues with chronological time waves. I hate it when I jump around from the first person to the third person in my diction. The worst! 

Nevertheless, I still struggle between writer versus performing artist: introvert versus extrovert. Initially, I was accepted to Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) to study Media & Performing Arts in my undergraduate program. In my sophomore year, I switched my B.F.A. to Writing and was amongst the first crew of SCAD Writing students to ever complete the program. I recall the exact moment I knew I’d become weary of performing arts. I remember the class and the assignment. Up until then, I loved being on stage! I loved being in the spotlight. I loved role-playing. And I was so thrilled to be centerstage: all eyes on me! 

I was always on a euphoric high each time we began something new. Suddenly, to much surprise, I dreaded playing someone else. I dreaded memorizing someone else’s lines and someone else’s voice. Because I didn’t know my voice. I felt like I’d been roleplaying my whole life and had no idea who I was. I didn’t want to wear a costume anymore. Suddenly, I didn’t want to be the center of attention. I wasn’t as extroverted any more. That’s a long story, too. 

Ultimately, writing helped me rediscover my voice and identity. Writing reminded me of my role in life. Writing helped me begin to heal from any secrets I was harboring. I could rewrite the story or not, but I had the control to make it fact or fiction. After college, I got back into dance and learned belly dancing through Stacey Lizette and Suhaila Salimpour. I performed at restaurants, nightclubs, and parties. Then I got into my Master’s, and I haven’t been on stage in a few years to sing or dance. Not including karaoke. I’ve hidden away, once again, for good and bad reasons. Of course, now I miss being on stage. So, I need to find that perfect ambivert balance of writer and performance artist.

Due to COVID, I’ll probably go digital until the pandemic clears. I do my best to keep my professional writing career separate from my performing arts interests and my nonfiction memoirs. I want employers to see the distinction and that the two are not intertwined. However, I’ve discovered that some employers dislike my modeling and dancing career. They think it’s too sexy or salacious, which saddens me because I’ve never been fired from a single job, and my credentials are pretty solid for my age. Thankfully, many employers do not feel that way and love having artists and creative types onboard. Who I am at the workplace is not who I am on stage or in a photoshoot. We all wear different masks and different costumes at work. I am grateful to everyone that believed in me along the way. I have so much work to do in the future. I am still far from where I need to be. But I am on the road. Books are my next goal.

SO LET’S SWITCH GEARS A BIT AND TALK BUSINESS. WHAT SHOULD WE KNOW ABOUT YOUR WORK?

One of the proudest moments of my career is when my editors at WideWorld Magazine in London, UK, commissioned me to interview a photographer for National Geographic and a sponsored athlete for The North Face, Jimmy Chin. They flew me out to Washington DC, where I interviewed Chin at The Madison Hotel before attending a banquet at National Geographic headquarters in his honor. The interviews were published in 2010. In 2019, he won an Oscar for his Documentary, Free Solo. It’s amazing! 

This interview made me internationally published in the US and Europe, a massive step for me in my career. Plus, I’ve adored Nat Geo since I was a child, and this was a dream come true. Mr. Chin was also very kind to me, and I remember that kindness because I was so new to the game and trying not to look or sound like a rookie.

NETWORKING AND FINDING A MENTOR CAN HAVE SUCH A POSITIVE IMPACT ON ONE’S LIFE AND CAREER. ANY ADVICE?

Well, I’ve learned the hard way that not everyone is eager to help you. Especially if they’re competing for the same goal, you might find cold comfort from those who want to see you fail. Even if they like you, they might be disinterested in assisting you on your journey. And you may never know why. So, I advise going where you’re wanted and trusting your instincts. My advice is to seek mentorship from someone that is smarter than you, possibly older and wiser, but definitely more advanced in their career. You should not be competing with a mentor. You need someone to look up to. Seek out the “angels” of the art world that want to help aspiring artists. People that love and adore the arts and see their value. Also, be sure to remain open-minded to constructive criticism. Negative enforcement is not healthy, and you will know it when you hear it, feel it… Artists can get a little egotistical and hypersensitive when it comes to their craft, and rightfully so. But it’s imperative to be able to take advice from others that hold your best interests. 

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2015 Texas Special Olympics

I came across something I wrote in 2015. With a few minor edits, I wanted to share what used to be a private post on social media. I wrote this six years ago today, on Feb. 5, 2015. It feels about right that I wrote this six years ago.

Tomorrow I am volunteering for 3 hours & 45 minutes at Highland Lanes bowling alley in honor of the 2015 Special Olympics. When I was little, two of my closest friends were often taken from the group or the class and placed with the other ‘special’ kids at our elementary school, and not the majority of us. (I put it in quotes because that’s what the teachers said.) Not always, but a lot of the time, we were separated for our classes, mostly sharing lunches, theater arts, music lessons, and the gymnasium. An adult was almost always accompanying the other special needs kids. That had to be a blessing and a burden for children to feel so supported and probably so smothered and isolated at times, too. It always bothered and confused me when we got split apart, and I didn’t fully understand why when I was little.

My friend Mark had blonde hair, blue eyes and wore X-Men shirts and Marvel comic book characters t-shirts, and had thick, thick glasses. He liked to impersonate people from movies and comics, and it made us all laugh. I do not know what doctors or specialists officially labeled his disability, but he was a very smart and gifted boy who knew that he could often act very disturbed at times, and you could tell it really frustrated him. It was intense for other students when he would get angry because we didn’t always understand why or what was going on. It could be disheartening to watch his bad days, because we all liked him, and you could tell he wanted to be with us, but that sometimes triggers were going off inside his head that sent him into rages or hysteria. I saw him cry a few times and that was always so hard. Then again, I also recall so many times he would bounce around a corner or run up to me with a massive smile on his face, and tell me random facts like, “Did you know the human body is mostly made of water?” I always liked it at the end of a conversation when he would dismiss me and say, “Be gone!” But it was said with a smile, terms of endearment.

My other friend was a girl, Nikky. We took music classes together at the local Jewish Community Center. We were both in gifted and talented classes together called PEP and PROMISE. Ribbons in her brunette hair, she had one bow on each side of her Pippi Longstocking looking braids. Nikky had a rolling walker to push herself everywhere on flat surfaces or ramps, braces on both knees. Something happened in the womb that disabled her legs to work correctly as a kid, and she could not support herself without the walker or help from elders or friends. I always admired her patience and gentle personality: I never heard her complaining. Me being such a tomboy and an intense Mallow child–I know I would have been a misery to be around with my fiery, intense demeanor and no way to move independently, always reliant on others. She, on the other hand was much more gracious, always in good spirits and kind-hearted. Very rarely did she have a breakdown. However, when there was a breakdown, it was bad. I was like an older big sister to her, yet we were the same age. I would carry her books and backpack and walk her down the hall in between classes–or sometimes a teacher would ask me to walk her early before class was released.

I was such a good friend to her: protecting her from bullies, helping open doors, set up our instruments at The JCC, carry lunch trays, picking up books and throw away the trash. I was helping her get ready for gym class and use the bathroom. Then again, maybe I wasn’t a great friend? It dawned on me in my late 20s that I had no idea what happened to our friendship.

One year I just became more consumed with my own needs in elementary. I can’t even recall the year or how it came to be, only that by the 5th grade, she was not as present in my life. I didn’t go and play with Barbies with her after school anymore. Of course if I ever saw her in need, I would help. But I let go the responsibility of being the child who was always there. And I had to learn to forgive myself because I was just a kid with needs too. Even if they weren’t so obvious.

In hindsight, I was in a state where I truly needed help and I was not receiving the emotional and mental support I needed… I just couldn’t give to her what I did not have in my own life. Physically, I could help Nikky in every way, but mentally and emotionally, I had very little support to give at that age. Even if I always had a lot of love in my heart… Since I was only a kid in K-5, I shouldn’t beat myself up about fading out. Most kids didn’t even help out at all and that’s the reason why I was assigned the task. I wasn’t like most kids, a very old soul beyond her years. I always had a tender heart for people that were different.

Anyway, I moved to Lake Travis in the 6th grade and lost touch with all of my elementary friends. But it can still haunt me to think about and I hope Nikky is alright. I hope Mark is alright, too… Either way, I guess when I think about it. I am volunteering tomorrow mostly in respect of Mark and Nikky, childhood friends I lost touch with. Plus I’ve been wanting to go to a bowling alley. Though I will not get to bowl tomorrow, maybe I’ll pick up some new skills by watching.

I hope it heals some old wounds by trying to do something nice for those in need now that I am a strong adult that can support herself.

Farewell to a Honky-Tonk Hero: James White

Photograph by Paramount Theatre – Austin, TX – January 2021

I had the honor and privilege to interview Mr. James White on two occasions. I’ve been very saddened about his passing. You can feel a deep mourning in the air. Many people are sad right now, and it’s healthy & natural to grieve, but it’s also important to celebrate such an illustrious, colorful & joyous life.

I remember one of his daughters making me fried okra from the kitchen, and they weren’t even open. It was early one morning in 2019. I interviewed her dad at table B2, where Willie Nelson and his wife used to eat..She offered me a few, and I took like three little pieces of okra, and I remember she reached out and gave me a big handful and said: I know you want more than that. The fried okra was delicious! I also remember Mr. White singing songs. And he gave me one of the original vinyl records produced from back in the Day of “Where There’s A Willie, There’s a Way.”

If you want to read the interviews, they’re on the web, and I’ll share them again later when it’s appropriate.

Photos of photos, taken by Nicolette Mallow. Broken Spoke – Austin, TX.

But what I remember most… I felt welcomed, and I will never forget that feeling. I’m a misfit like many artists. And I will always remember his kindness, nor will I ever forget his family’s hospitality.

I have to admit I’ve cried on quite a few occasions about his death and thinking of his family. When mi abuelita lost her husband of 64 years, another Army veteran as well, it took a long time for her heart to heal. My heart goes out to his wife and daughters, and everyone that was part of the Broken Spoke family. I cried when I saw the gold letters outside that said, Dad. But it also made me happy to see all the flowers!

Usually, when I interview people, it’s just a one-time occasion, and then I typically don’t see them again except maybe some emails here and there. I have conducted hundreds of interviews. But I considered Mr. White a friend. I always enjoyed going to the Spoke, and I will miss seeing him there on weekends in his cowboy hats wearing his bling-bling shirts.

If you’re in the vicinity, please go out and support the Broken Spoke and the White family. Grab a hot plate, a drink (alcohol or not) and relax to some genuine honky-tonk live music.

Pecans, Roses & a Texas Fire

A pecan resides in this decorative teacup. Like the little mermaid, I, too, have a collection of knick-knacks. I saved this pecan after walking in the woods to enjoy the beauty of a New Year. Since it’s wintertime, I didn’t notice the type of trees until I saw pecans on the ground. I shuffled a few around with my feet like tiny soccer balls & picked one up. Steven asked me, “are you going to eat it?” And I said, “no, I’m going to save it forever.” {Scully can’t eat pecans, nuts are bad for dogs, so I hid it from her.}

¡Feliz año nuevo! Enclosed is a video of a New Year’s Eve fire with two of my favorites: Scully & Steven. Compared to the wild NYE chaos over the last few years, I had a very peaceful and wonderful turn of the year. Staying in with Thai, Mexican & Italian foods, great libations & laughter was soothing. It had been so long since time moved so slow, in a good way… the art of doing nothing but enjoying the simple pleasures of life, love, food, sex, nature and entertainment… I didn’t want the holiday to end, but I’m grateful that it was so lovely. Even the weather on New Year’s Day was gorgeous, and it was a perfect day for coffee, sports, Juice Land, and a sunshine walk in the park. Followed by another fire that burned all day long till we fell asleep.

“The stars at night are big and bright. Deep in the heart of Texas”.

Décembre

Hello Kitty cookie art: Because Carbs-Alli Harris

December is one of my favorite months. I don’t like how early the sunsets are. I love long days of sunshine. But there’s something about December I’ve always found very charming. And it’s not just because of my birthday. I even like to say the word December in French: Décembre.


SCAD Commencement 11.22.2014

Six years ago today, I walked the stage after completing my Master’s degree. It was my second graduation ceremony to participate in at the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD).

Enclosed is video clip of the drum line, disco lights & confetti cannon from this SCAD commencement. This was my second graduation ceremony to participate in. 12 years ago, I obtained my B.F.A. in Writing from SCAD, and 2014 marked the completion of my Masters of Arts degree in Arts Administration (now recognized as Creative Business Design). I’m proud and relieved to say that I graduated with my honors award scholarships that I obtained upon admission to the graduate program. (I had to maintain a certain GPA to keep the scholarships to the end.)

Thank you SCAD for a great day and a evocative speaker whom made me cry a little bit in secret when he quoted “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes. A poem from 1922. (Our speaker was Oscar winning screenwriter Geoffrey S. Fletcher). I will never forget this special day!

Note: I believe this was the last Fall graduation ceremony in the smaller Johnny Mercer theater, as opposed to the giant Martin Luther King Arena every Spring. It was so small compared to the huge ceremony when I obtained my BFA.

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So, boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps.
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

Langston Hughes

SCAD Bee & Artista

Thank you Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) for featuring me in the November 2020 Alumni newsletter! I am so happy & grateful. The last time SCAD mentioned me in the newsletter was in November 2012. When I was working for The University of Texas at Austin & attending graduate school, too. Oy vais!

I cut out the other names & highlighted mine, not to only feature myself, but I figured the emails only go to alumni, and I didn’t know if it was appropriate to share. The hyperlink associated with my name goes to my business website https://nicolettemallow.com/.

PS: SCAD’s mascot is the honeybee/bumblebee. 🐝🐝🐝

Dare to Dream with Dyslexia

Photography by Nicolette Mallow at The Atlanta Zoo in Georgia.

As a little girl and pesky little sister, I’d sneak into my older brother’s room to read his “Calvin and Hobbes” comics by Bill Watterson. We were four grades apart and for a short time: I was at home while Zachary was at elementary school. I loved those comic books! It didn’t hurt that Hobbes was a tiger, too, since I am the year of the tiger. There was a periodical when Calvin is thinking, daydreaming about outer space, the meaning of life, and having an existential crisis: do I matter? I recall a line in the comic reel about feeling like a “molecular dot in the Universe.” In another scene, Calvin shouts into the stardust sky, “I matter!” That concept resonated with me even at four years old. Knowing I was an old soul, knowing that I mattered, and realizing the Universe is infinite, vast. I am just a molecular dot in the galaxy. Ergo, do I matter?

When I was three years old, I taught myself the alphabet and how to read. With the use of Hooked on Phonics and the guidance of my mother, an English teacher: I was literate before elementary school. As was my brother, who is more intelligent than me, and went to Columbia University and MIT Sloan School of Management, but this is a story about me. By the time I turned four, I was reading chapter books on my own. I asked my parents to take me to the library for fun. The catchy slogan, Hooked on Phonics worked for me!” is the truth.

Before I could read on my own, my Lebanese father read to us from birth, so we were born into a world of books, history, and imagination. My parents noticed I loved books and often read to myself even when I couldn’t spell. I would make it up as I turned the pages and looked at the imagery. Owl Moon was one of my favorites! Back in the 1980s, when my mother gave me a stack of Hooked on Phonics learning books, Hooked on Phonics tapes, a cassette player, pencils, colored pencils, crayons, and scratch paper. She expected me to sit, to learn, and to read my Hooked on Phonics materials. Sometimes I would get snacks to eat while working, but not enough to get my papers dirty. Even now, I can still hear some of the memorization games. You might not hear the melodic tune, but I replay the memory: “A, E, I, O, U are vowels… and sometimes Y”.

Flash forward to adulthood—after I completed my Master’s degree, my undergraduate, and 15 years of freelance writing with amazing companies in the United States and Europe—I was finally diagnosed with dyslexia. Since my junior year of high school in AP English, my dyslexia had surfaced. Alas, my learning disability had gone untreated so long it was hard to diagnose and resolve. Since the seventh grade, I felt I struggled with grammar, but I didn’t feel anyone was listening. Instead, I was met with ingratitude and criticism, an attitude from teachers that I just needed to “try harder” or “listen more closely.”

Because I was in a gifted and talented (GT) program since kindergarten, and I did all Pre-AP and AP classes in high school. I began struggling in secret. My learning issues didn’t show in elementary school. Not until 7th grade English with those damn diagrams: I didn’t have any evident grammar issues, even myself. [I still loathe those bloody diagrams with a passion!] Then, after 7th grade English it wasn’t until Algebra II in high school that I had any evident issues with mathematics. Once again, I was berated and told to try harder. The harder I tried, the more difficult it became to focus, and I started to beat myself up. I dreaded English and Math teachers. I had doubts about whether I was smart or not. I had anxiety at test times and started having panic attacks. Thankfully, my AP English teacher, Mrs. Goodman, during my junior year of high school, pulled me aside to talk. I wanted to drop out of her AP English class because every paper I wrote came back riddled with red ink, like the pages were bleeding with errors. The red marks became too depressing for me. A reminder that my grammar wasn’t good enough.

English used to be one of my best subjects. My first research paper in the 2nd grade for an after-school GT program (invite only) was about Ramses The Great.

How did I become such a sloppy writer? When did everyone start correcting me all the time and constantly criticizing me when I speak or write?

Mrs. Goodman, my AP English teacher, was the first educator to pull me aside and tell me, “Nicolette. You are one of my best and brightest students. You’re one of my best writers. Please do not drop out of my class because it’s getting hard. I know you are intelligent and gifted. I know that. I can tell somewhere along the line the system failed you. The system failed to teach you grammar. I want to help you, not insult you or hurt you. Please, stay in my class. I promise you will pass if you keep putting in the work. I can see you’re working hard on each paper you write, and you’re a great writer. You have a natural voice. You need editing.”

I remember I tried to pinch myself to stop the tears, but I cried anyway. I thanked Mrs. Goodman for her kindness, and I never dropped out. I finished the semester with a good grade in AP English. Sadly, that was the first time any teacher saw me and realized I struggled with a learning disorder. Years later, after I graduated with a B.F.A. in Writing from Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). I went back to Lake Travis High School to personally thank Mrs. Goodman for believing in me and grab a cup of coffee. Without her, I may have given up on my writing voice. I was an artist from birth, but it wasn’t until college that I knew I was a writer more than I was a dancer, vocalist, or actor.

In college at SCAD, my art professors noticed I was dyslexic, and they gave me materials to read to understand my mind better. Professors were more forgiving about my grammar, less berating, and less condescending than standardized teachers at public schools. The professors focused on the content, the heart of the story, and my creative skills. Professors did edit my grammar. Points were deducted if the text was sloppy or I rushed the assignment. But I was graded on my effort, my work ethic, my mind, and my voice. Not just grammar. I was graded on whether or not I completed the assignment, followed the instructions, and whether did my best to keep growing as an artist. For the most part, my art professors were kind about my disability and knew I am knowledgeable, not lazy, stupid, or uneducated.

Art school wasn’t always kind to me. One of my writing professors was brutal and liked to point out my grammatical errors in front of the class, knowing I was dyslexic. Once I was mailing an envelope to my grandparents in Texas whose last name is Valadez—it contained writings of mine—and when I took it out of my bookbag.

The professor walked over and dared to tell me, “You misspelled your grandparents’ last name,” and with his forefinger, he said with a corrective tone, “it should read, Valdez.”

I was speechless and it took all my might to be gracious. “Incorrect, their name is Valadez.”

He went quiet but did not apologize.

That was another moment I realized a teacher (and a published writer) had no compassion nor understanding of dyslexia. He wasn’t even Hispanic, Latino, Spanish, Mexican, etc. It blew my mind how he overstepped his boundaries on a cultural level and insulted my intelligence. There I was, teaching him how to spell, and he was supposed to be the teacher that allegedly memorized the whole dictionary. Tragic!

For decades, there has been a harsh stigma about dyslexia: if you have dyslexia, you must be incompetent, which is far from the truth. Two days ago, I saw an article with a video featuring a dyslexic woman that graduated from Harvard. Laura Schifter spoke of her struggles with dyslexia. Right before she attended Ivy League Harvard, an older man said something to Schifter: “Well, if you’re going to Harvard, then you must not have dyslexia.” Oy! It was hard to watch, but she talks about the brutal comments and the misinformed judgments a lot of people hold towards dyslexia.

Earlier this year, after living with dyslexia my whole life: I sought out an Educational Diagnostician for an official diagnosis. It turns out; I fall into the category of 2E dyslexia. Which stands for twice-exceptional. “Twice-exceptional or 2e is a term used to describe students who are both intellectually gifted (as determined by an accepted standardized assessment) and learning disabled, including students with dyslexia.” Statistics estimate that about 2-5% of the population has this form of dyslexia, maybe higher.

For years, I’ve been keeping my dyslexia a secret from employers. I was advised that no one wants to hire a dyslexic writer. It was implied most editors see a dyslexic writer like a deaf musician, a colorblind photographer, or a one-legged runner. I heard from other professionals that employers see a writer like me as too much work. It’s unfair, it’s wrong, and it’s saddening—but it’s the harsh truth. So I kept my dyslexia secret, which ended up hurting me in the end.

Lately, I kept missing out on editorial jobs I wanted. I’d apply, and yet nothing would transpire. It was bonkers because, for over ten years, my writing career was booming! Lately, I’ve picked up a few writing projects here and there, but for the most part, I’ve pursued other jobs for income. Recently, my writing career has been quiet. It’s not just COVID-19; there’s bad juju going on. I felt clueless about why I was suddenly invisible, especially after years of success with companies like SXSW, HBO Films, National Geographic, Prevention Magazine, The Hollywood Reporter, Texas Monthly, UT Austin, and more. Plus, my record is clean, and I’ve never been fired. I don’t have a criminal history. My portfolio and credentials are impressive for my age. Yet, I was getting dismissed as a writer. For a while, no company would tell me why I wasn’t selected. Each time I came in silver or bronze, each rejection I kept asking why, so I could work on the issue. But I kept getting ghosted, or they sent an insincere PR note without any explanation. All that time, writing samples I’d submitted to prospective employers for free—writings that took hours, days, or weeks to complete—and the editors or hiring managers didn’t even give a reply as to why I wasn’t hired—only a rejection letter.

I asked myself: Does that seem right to you, Mallow? Do you want to work for a company that asks for free labor without the respect of a critique? The answer is a bonafide, no.

Finally, this summer, a hiring manager told the recruiter to inform me. The reason I was not selected is because of my grammar. I made one too many grammar errors for hire. Sadly, these are words I’ve heard since the seventh grade: your grammar sucks. Ain’t nothing new. I’m aware. I didn’t know how to fix it.

Writers are supposed to be flawless at grammar. I’ll never forget when a childhood friend from school wrote to me late at night on Facebook about nine years ago, “You should really learn to improve your grammar if you consider yourself a writer.” Not only was it ugly, but the implication was: you’re not a writer. You only think you are. But I define myself and my identity, not others, especially trolls looking to see me fail.

This summer, when I read the email from the recruiter about my grammar or lack thereof. For the first time during the interview process, especially since I had nothing to lose, I confessed my secret: I am dyslexic. To much surprise, the recruiter told me that dyslexia is a superpower and nothing to be ashamed about. They advised me to check out Grammarly, which I am using for this post. They advised me to be forthright with employers about dyslexia. Once again, I cried because I was heard, seen, and acknowledged. And I thanked the recruiter for her kindness and professionalism.

Ultimately, I’m grateful because I finally got my answer about why I was wasn’t selected. Now I can use Grammarly and kick my dyslexia’s ass. Now, I can get the writing jobs I’ve worked hard for the last 15 years. [I’ve yet to download Grammarly Premium. I can only imagine how many more errors will arise. C’est la vie!]

I don’t know why I was so successful for so many years and suddenly became invisible. At least I know the truth and can fix it and change my bad luck.

If you have dyslexia, the publishing industry can bind you, break you, chew you up, and spit you out. It can make you doubt yourself. Every rejection I read without explanation caused me to manifest an existential crisis of my own. Does my writing matter? Am I a writer?

Finally, I found some peace of mind with honesty, self-acceptance, and Grammarly. 

Yes, the truth hurt to read. I’ve heard it for far too long. It’s disheartening that my grammar can overshadow 110+ publications in the United States and Europe, 12 national awards, and my credentials, talents, skills, and accolades. It’s a mystery why all of a sudden, my grammar has caused so many issues. It makes me sad for younger generations, the children, because what kind of message does that send out. “Kids, you can be anything you want to be, so long as you don’t have a learning disability.”

Do I dare to dream of being a writer, even though I am dyslexic? Hell yes, I dare to dream of being a New York Times Best Seller.

True, being a dyslexic writer is an oxymoron and most employers, especially editors, don’t want to have to put in, what they feel, is extra work to accommodate someone’s disability. There is a lack of compassion and awareness surrounding dyslexia. Nonetheless, I will no longer hide my learning disability because I am not disabled. I am unique, and my mind works differently. I am proud of all my achievements, accomplishments, and accolades. Even my failures helped me grow. If I can achieve all I did with my bad grammar. What goals can’t I reach with enhanced and improved grammar?

Lastly, I know editors, employers, artists, and entrepreneurs won’t focus on my shortcomings. Instead, they will focus on my talents and skills. I know in my heart some compassionate employers want me on their editorial team. I may not be the best at grammar, but writing is more than grammar. Writing requires a heart and a voice. These skills cannot be taught at school.

SCAD is one of the best art and design schools in the world. For my Master’s program, SCAD offered me three Academic Honors Awards Scholarships based upon a Thesis paper I wrote during the Admissions process. I wrote that research paper without Grammarly or an editor. If SCAD believed in me, I know someone else will, and I look forward to joining that team.

“Dream when you’re feelin’ blue. Dream. That’s the thing to do. Just watch the smoke rings rise in the air. You’ll find your share of memories there. So dream. When the day is through. Dream. And they might come true. Things never are as bad as they seem. So dream, dream, dream“. 

– Frank Sinatra (written by Johnny Mercer)

Bambina

Two years ago, in summer 2018, waterfront to the lake, under the Texas stars and an almost full moon. A 10-year-old girl, the daughter of my friend, began to play with my braids. At first, I felt her touching my hair, but then her fingers pulled my rubber band. Her tiny little fingers were unraveling my braids–two braids intertwined into one. It was so cute. She proceeded to let my hair loose. I was worried she might tangle my hair but kept quiet. Thankfully, she did not and knew to loosen the braids from the bottom to the top. My hair free-flowing, she played with my long locks for a minute and happily ran away, like a little fairy.

Speechless for a few seconds, I sat there and didn’t move. Later, I asked the little girl if she knew Rapunzel’s story, and she did not. So I asked her what her favorite fairy tale is or her favorite Disney princess. Moana is her favorite! Regardless, I was stunned that not only did this little girl feel so close to me like I were one of her China dolls she was playing with. I was also perplexed because it didn’t anger me.

Make no mistake about this story; I do not want kids. Love them, don’t want one, which shocks some people because I am Latina/Lebanese, and family is essential. Regardless, this child’s sweetness and curiosity reminded me of myself when I was a little girl. She just wanted to see my hair in a different light and then got bored and went to play with something else… It touched my heart to remember what it was like to feel at ease and be around the silliness and innocence of a child at play. Now. If an adult, male or female, came up and just grabbed my hair and put their fingers in my braids and started to take out my braids, well, it won’t bode well. I have to feel very comfortable to allow an adult to touch my hair so intimately. I do not like random people touching my hair, and because it’s so long, many people reach for my braids, and it’s invasive. Sometimes inappropriate if people make jokes about them being like horse reins. Unless ‘you’ are my hairstylist, my lover, my bestie, a dear friend, or there is a dire need to touch my braids (that I can’t even think of). It’s just too intimate, like Robert Redford washing Meryl Streep’s hair in that old movie. Playing with my hair is something I now associate with intimacy, sexual, or nonsexual. Through a child’s eyes, it was neither. She was just playing dress-up and curious about a woman older than her.

Frankly, I wasn’t always so jumpy about my hair until I got jumped in November 2015. Since that hostile incident, I’ve become very particular about my hair. This neurotic woman in her 40’s I never spoke to in my life jumped me on a Sunday afternoon on Rainey St. and I could feel her fingers in my hair. People don’t realize how sensitive the scalp is. At first, I had no idea what was happening. I’d never been jumped before. First came the impact. No clue what was going on except I knew to bend my knees and ground my feet into place to not fly forward onto the concrete. Then, I could hear a female’s voice shrieking and shouting into my ear. I felt the weight of someone taller and heavier than me, hanging on my back. I felt a tight grip of thick, strong hands around my spine and hair. She was trying to take me to the ground but was not strong enough, and it was uncomfortable and painful. And also humiliating because we were in public. She was so hysterical her boyfriend drug her out by the shoulder. I call her gorilla woman. This female is Caucasian, so it’s NOT about skin color. It’s that she behaved like an animal, precisely like a gorilla or a monkey hanging on my back, since then… Sometimes it can upset me to the point of anger when random people touch my hair. It triggers the anger and disdain from being jumped.

As my friend watched his young daughter touch my hair, he was surprised to see a softer side of me. I felt a little vulnerable because he’s used to the tomboy in me… When she ran away, I looked at him with a smile and said, “You better not try that because you will get a different reaction.” He laughed and said he knew better than to try. The memory of this sweet, little girl playing with my braids is a pleasant memory to replace the bad one. It’s interesting how one vile, intense memory that is negative can often negate the positive memories. I guess that’s the power of transformation. Transforming time and memories into a reality we desire, rather than dwell in the past. I strive for a loving, peaceful environment. I seek to be around kindhearted people, and children often tend to be kinder and less jaded than adults.

PS: I chose this snow globe video because it’s from childhood. Well, technically, it came from San Francisco, but I had one of these as a Bambina after going to see the ballet when I was 4-5 years old. The first snow globe broke & the replacement was lost. And then, after I saw Swan Lake by The Royal Moscow Ballet in Dublin, Ireland. It made me want a new ballerina snow globe. #Tchaikovsky