A woman walks into a job change

22 06 2012

My journey as a hair stylist for film began in 1994. I had lived in Wilmington about a year and a half, and I had become friends with an extras casting person in town. One day she called and asked if I would be interested in working on a George Lucas film as one 150 of the back ground people. I had plenty of free time on my hands and I said yes.

The story, RadioLand Murders is a comedy, set in 1939. The premise was a radio show that was performed for a live audience. I would be one of the actresses back stage which required me to work almost every day of the filming.

The first part of this adventure required me to go to a wardrobe warehouse and be fitted for a gown. Despite my protests, the wardrobe folks did not seem at all interested in the fact that green is the worst color in the world for my skin tones. They promptly picked out a Gross Green Gown for me. I complained profusely (in my head) when I learned that I would have to wear the awful thing for the duration of the shoot.

Next stop on my agenda was hair and make-up. I was handed a piece of paper with some pictures of 1930s hairstyles on it along with directions on how to set my hair. Their thinking was that it would help the hair people out if we could replicate anything close to one of these styles on our own and they would put the finishing touches on it. I was fascinated with the process and, suddenly, the dreaded finger waves I struggled with in cosmetology school became valuable.

I showed up to work my first day with crisp finger waves stuck to my head with gobs of hair gel. The hair department girls loved me. They only had to tidy up the curls in the back and I was picture ready.

I quickly learned that being an extra is extremely boring most of the time. Turns out, I had lots of time to watch and be impressed with the skills of these professionals. The magic was happening all around me as the hair, make up and wardrobe all came together to create the illusion of living in 1939. The set designs of the the theater and stage absolutely transformed us in time! It looked just as it would in the 1930s.

I spent every minute hanging with the hair dressers. I would sweep hair, hand them bobby pins, go find the hair nets; whatever they needed. And the whole time I was watching and learning. By the second week, I knew what they were going to need for the person who sat in their chair and would have it in hand by the time they turned around. It was my way of  keeping my mind occupied.

After about 3 weeks, I was offered a job as a hairstylist on the rest of the film. I never gave a thought to doing hair for film and television before then but now, I can not imagine doing anything else. You just never know what crazy turn a life can take sometimes.

And, yes, you can see me (for about 30 seconds)in the gawd awful green gown in this movie. 😉

Journey to Fearless

25 05 2012

I am wondering what my next project will be. Will I work on another show or will I be selected as a contestant on a new television show I have submitted for?

I don’t know but I can tell you this, I am going to be 60 years old this fall and I am still strong and healthy and vibrant. There is a lot more in me to do and I am tired of playing things safe. Fear has no place in my life. That doesn’t mean I don’t have fear, but I will not be ruled by it. Being afraid of what other people think of me is such an energy suck and a waste of time. How can I ever walk in the destiny God has designed for me if I am worried about what someone might say behind my back. (And, they always say it behind the back because they themselves are afraid.)

When we got the diagnoses from Ed’s doctors that his liver disease was taking over more and more of his life, we continued to pray for his healing. We are people of faith and we believe that God can and does heal. We also know that we live in temporal bodies. Everyone of us has an expiration date. God gave us a birthday and he gives us a death day. No one gets out alive.

The sicker Ed got, the more fear rose up in me. So many questions. Can I do this? Can I comfort him on his death bed when the time comes? Will he suffer horribly? What will become of Coni without Ed? Fear, fear and more fear. God  kept leading me to passages of the Bible that said “fear not for I am with you.” “I will never leave you or forsake you.” “I know the plans I have for you…” “do not fear or be discouraged.” “God had not given us a spirit of fear…”  God spoke into my spirit, “Only be fearless. I have you. Nothing will overtake you.”

That is when I got the word tattooed on my wrist. Fearless. Not because I am, but because I want to be. It is what I aspire to.

In my journey, I have made a decision to eliminate the drama Mammas and Pappas from my life. I am praying for them, I still love them but I will not allow them to poison my life any more. Sometimes it is beneficial to love from a distance. I realize that I can’t help anyone who will not let God move in their lives. It is pure ego to think otherwise. God pulled me out of my muck and mire when I absolutely let go of everything in this world that I was clinging to. I can’t do that for anyone else, but I will try to help anyone who is willing to lean on God first.

So far, it is an interesting journey I am on.



Life as I am learning it.

11 04 2012

Every day I have important decisions to make.

  1. get out of my bed; (harder than you would think some days)
  2. cry whenever I have to. (although I try to do this in private)
  3. lean on God more than I lean on my friends. (He always has my back)
  4. pray for others (so many friends need prayer)
  5. re-model my 20 year old kitchen. (which I am loving!!)
  6. take control of my diet. (Ugh)
  7. balance work and pleasure. ( say what???!!!)
  8. cherish family time whenever it is possible. (looking forward to all the fam coming in town)
  9. eliminate the drama mammas. (puh-lease)
Widowhood is not for sissies. It takes some learning and God knows I am trying. I miss Ed every day and, truth of the matter is, it is not getting any easier to be without him.
My work has been a life saver. I just completed an independent film starring Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly and Lily Collins. The title is “Writers”. It was a fun show to work on. I did Greg and Lily’s hair and Patrick Schwarzenegger among others. You will be happy to know they were all very nice.
I love the work I do for television and film. It is not always easy to keep it in proper perspective though. There is a weird sense of urgency to always find the next job. Insecurity runs very high in this industry and lends itself to the feeling that every job finished could be the last job I will ever have, which is complete nonsense. God is my manager and my booking agent. He opens doors that no one can close and closes doors that no one can open. He has put me in some pretty cool positions and He is not done yet. Knowing that helps me to relax and let Him do what He does best; take care of me.
I am actually taking some time off on purpose to spend a week with my family. We rented a house on Topsail Beach and all the girls, SILs and Grands are coming in on Saturday!! The house sleeps 12 and we will fill it. I am so excited to see everyone together. The weather is going to be fabulous, in the 70s and 80s. God is smiling on us right now. Coincidentally, our family time is going to be during the one year mark since Ed passed away. The mere fact that we will all be together on that day is a God thing. I did not plan it that way, it is when the beach house was available and the school vacations worked out. Ed is smiling on us too.
Many pictures will be taken. 😀

Still breathing; still learning.

18 03 2012

I never had to think twice about it. Ed always had my back. Whenever there was a business decision or a relationship that I had qualms about, he always had the right answer for us. I never doubted that he had our best interest at heart. That is because we were one. If it was a bad decision for me, it was bad for him also. Good for me, good for him. One.

There are some tricky things to this widowhood trek. Making decisions alone can be nerve wracking when you are not used to it. I am trying to transfer my dependence on Ed to dependence on Jesus. Only, Jesus doesn’t sit at the kitchen table and brainstorm with me. It is much more difficult for me to get His take on a situation. It takes patience and waiting and listening.

As I continue to take a personal inventory, I realize that I am not very good at those three things. Patience has always alluded me as I want what I want when I want it. (Usually immediately) I am learning that, even as timing is the key to comedy, it is also the key to many of the good gifts in life. Some things need time to marinate or time to age.

My inclination is to make the decision right away and then jump in with both feet and work like crazy to make it work. (Usually exhausting) Any chef will tell you that waiting  for that sirloin to absorb the flavor of the spices is imperative if you want a delicious experience. Sometimes, I need to wait for every thing to line up before I can make a good decision.

My Mom used to say that I could talk a dog off a meat wagon. I think it is a family curse as I recall my own daughter trying to convince me of implausible things and now I hear my 20 something grandson prattle on about what he thinks is the brilliant answer to life’s questions. (Usually annoying) God gave me two ears and one mouth, which implies that I should listen twice as much as I speak. If I can quiet my own thoughts and self talk, and the voices of those around me, I can actually hear the still, small voice telling me the direction to go in.

  I realize that Jesus has my best interest at heart. He proved that when He laid down His life for me. If I am making a bad decision, He wants to save me from that. Since He has the plan for my life, He also knows what is good for me and He is far more patient with me than I am with myself. I don’t always have to understand that, but I absolutely believe it. Even in times of deepest sorrow He is my comfort. In times of success He is my Joy. In times of insecurity He is my shelter. In times of weakness He is my strength. He is my loudest cheering section, always wanting me to win. He is the lover of my soul, taking all of my sin onto Himself. He is my redeemer, purchasing my pardon on Calvary’s cross. He is my eternal home.

Knowing all of that helps me to be patient, to wait and to listen for His answer. I am sure that I will have to be reminded as more decisions have to be made. It is all a learning and growing experience. As long as I am still breathing, I am still learning. Learning to be One with my Lord.

He brought me up out of the pit.

3 11 2011

Ladies were excited as we threw "showers of blessings". Hair and make up products.

The missions director on our trip to Spain, Peggy, asked if I would share my testimony with the ladies there. It was an opportunity to give the unedited version to an audience of all ladies. Well, unedited except for the fact that the schedule required me to speak for no more than 20 minutes. I had no idea how to cram my lifetime into 20 minutes. I prayed. Hard.

Our journey to the conference outside of Madrid consisted of  a plane trip and a trip on the bullet train.  We left the USA on Friday and arrived in Spain Saturday afternoon. When we arrived at the camp I immediately set up a station to do haircuts and styles. I was already sleep deprived but God blessed and we turned out some happy make overs. Lisa did some lovely make up and we began to see some beautiful “chicas” at the conference. We were awake for more than 30 hours before we got our first nights sleep.

Sunday morning, Peggy asked me if I was ready to share. I honestly had no idea in my head of where to start or what to say and I told her so. I had prayed, read some scriptures and meditated on my favorite Psalm but my head was empty! That is when Peggy took the time restraint off and freed me up to just share my heart no matter how long it would take. Still, I had no idea what to say… but God knew exactly what He wanted me to do.

Peggy Laney and Cynthia Mattis had shared some teachings on women in the bible and the role they played in the history and genealogy of Christ. Did you know that an adultress, a prostitute and the wife of a wishy -washy man were all very important women in Bible history? Bathsheba, Rahab and Jael. The teaching on these ladies had set the stage and the spiritual atmosphere for me to tell my story.

I have been through a LOT of stuff in my 59 years and I am a walking miracle. I stood at that podium and felt an immediate connection to these ladies. Even though I needed an interpreter the language was not a barrier because our hearts were the same. The first thing I said is, “I am you.” As I shared my story the order of things began to flow. As I looked out into the audience of 70 women I saw heads nodding in agreement, smiles and at some points in my story, tears. I wept openly as I spoke about losing my husband of 28 years.

I am no different than these ladies and they are no different than me. God has a hope and a plan for my life. He has blessed me with so much and He will bless them with what they need too. Former prostitutes, adulteresses and wives of no account men. When we turn our lives over to a God who loves us, He makes ugly things beautiful. He redeems. He restores. His plan is greater…..




30 09 2011

It was my intention this morning to read and to post about the upcoming trip to Spain. During the reading portion of my morning, the dog distracted me with barking from my back garden.  While I was still in my PJs and  without the assistance of any foundational under pinnings, I stepped out back and got further distracted by the overgrown weediness of my, so called, serenity garden.

With all of my ADD self, I began pulling random weeds until Bella started to bark at a van that pulled into my drive way. In a tizzy, I dove back into the house and  into the bedroom for some decent, mid-morning apparel. Mission accomplished, I opened the front door to find my friend Carolyn standing there with a shy grin.

“I came to weed your garden.”

I posted on Facebook yesterday that my serenity garden had turned into an anxiety garden because I had neglected it for the past 5 months. As I looked at it I was just overwhelmed and did not know where to start to get it in order again.

Carolyn is the kind of friend who is like a family member. She has spent many hours in my  home and knows how much enjoyment Ed and I always derived from our little haven in the back yard. It bothered her to know that it was causing me to feel anything but peaceful. It bothered her so much that she just showed up at my house with a bucket for weeds and a pair of garden gloves.

What an angel.

In two hours my garden was transformed again into a place of peace and delight.

Not only did we weed and lop off drooping branches, but we hung out together. As we worked together to transform the neglected, weedy mess into something pretty, my thoughts drifted to the ladies of Spain. (who knows that I enjoy a good analogy?) These ladies have been through some very tough times. As I am learning more about Betel Ministries, I am made aware that several of the people in the mission are HIV positive. Some have managed to get out of human trafficking situations. There is nothing pretty or peaceful in all of this. These are very weedy and tangled lives. It is easy to see how they could be overwhelmed at the idea of transformation. Where on earth do you begin when coming out of heroin addiction, alcohol abuse, the sex slave trade and who knows what else?

All I know is God is allowing us the opportunity to touch these broken lives in a way that can bring visible beauty to them. As we apply make up and give new hair styles and speak words of LIFE to them, we are coming along side their Creator and the One Who knows what their destiny will be. He has brought this team together for a time such as this. I do not have to know anything else. I will just try my best to serve and leave the results to God.