Everyone has inside of her a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be, how much you can love, what you can accomplish, and what your potential is. – Anne Frank, German-born diarist and writer
My daughter doesn’t fully know it yet, but she’s lucky that I’m part of the LUNAFEST East Bay Committee. The weekend before our monthly Monday meetings, she happily – most of the time – bakes cookies for me to bring. And everyone on the committee loves them. She thinks of this as doing a favor for her mom, but the act is really an extension of her giving self. She and her friends try to do monthly bake sales to raise money for the Milo Foundation, which rescues dogs and cats and finds their forever homes for them. So she’s exhibiting her giving self by baking cookies or a wine cake for a worthy nonprofit. Since she was very young, she has had a big heart for all animals and cares about the world, our environment.
She also volunteers at our LUNAFEST VIP event held right before the evening’s screening of short films “by, for, about women.” While selling raffle tickets is not exactly what she wants to be doing on a Saturday late afternoon, she’s learning valuable skills that will serve her well when she’s a young adult – being assertive, presenting oneself before others, being persuasive. But most importantly at the VIP event, she’s listening and learning. It’s important to have great role models around you and to find out what they do, which expands your world of what is possible, what you can dream about, and how you can make that dream a reality. She’s surrounded by the wonderful, hardworking women on the LUNAFEST East Bay committee and sees their commitment to women’s health issues and in support of women’s creativity and their uphill battle in gaining equality in the filmmaking industry. Last year, we were honored to have two of the LUNAFEST filmmakers attend the VIP event and the screening. I am lucky because one of my roles with the LUNAFEST East Bay committee is to interview and write profiles of these talented and visionary women. Everyone’s life is different, the motivations come from myriad places of inspiration, and the journey, whether rocky or charmed, is the story itself.
While Isabella doesn’t understand everything in these profiles, I share them with her to show her what is possible. I was particularly drawn this year to Hanna Maylett’s description of Jane Campion’s autobiographical film about the New Zealand writer Janet Frame, which was her inspiration as a filmmaker: “Campion’s film told about a woman’s vulnerability as a creative strength.” This speaks to me because aside from being a creative and artistic being, Isabella is passionate, compassionate, empathetic, idealistic, and sensitive. Sometimes – many times – those traits can be used against a person. That’s why I love this idea of a woman’s vulnerability being a creative strength. It’s a way of looking at and interacting within the world in a positive way. I’ve learned so much from interviewing these women, and I’m hoping Isabella finds the profiles interesting today and inspirational as she matures. I hope she remembers these women and their stories and their vision when she begins her journey of self-discovery.
In that same tact as older generations telling the younger generation what they lived without, what they didn’t have, I’m sincere when I tell her that when I was growing up, there were few role models and even fewer windows and doors to open that would show me a world far beyond my simple, rural upbringing. This, of course, will be lost on her right now because this is what she’s come to expect out of her young life. While it would be great to appreciate it at this age, it’s expecting too much. I know that somewhere all of this information is being stored in her head, and she’ll have that ah-ha moment when she discovers what her passion is, what her gift to the world will be.
LUNAFEST East Bay was especially honored last year to have Jeanne Rizzo, CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, come to our VIP event and serve as our keynote speaker. Jeanne is dynamic and passionate about everything. She has done so much with her life. And if there were a handful of women I’d pick to have my daughter grow up around, one of them would definitely be Jeanne. Read about her and you’ll know why. Isabella knows we raise money for the Breast Cancer Fund. Her paternal great-grandmother and great aunt died of breast cancer. Her paternal grandmother is a breast cancer survivor. She understands the importance of raising funds for the Breast Cancer Fund to conduct research and advocacy work that will help “to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.”
Isabella turned 13 this past December, and next month she will already be attending her third LUNAFEST. She’s been able to sit with friends of hers who are also attending with their moms for a mother/daughter night out. So Isabella’s seen a handful of short films – animation, documentary, fiction – written and directed by women who are driven to tell their stories and other people’s stories in their unique viewpoint. Isabella loves to write stories, so I know she’ll appreciate being around such creativity.
It’s a time for us. Even though I’m running around the night of the event, it’s something that we share and have memories of together. As she grows older and, like the tide, feels the inevitable pull elsewhere, I’m grateful to be sharing one of my passions with her.