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LUNAFEST - Short Films By, For & About Women

Last week, I was honored with an invitation to attend LUNAFEST at The Palace of Fine Arts Theater in San Francisco. I wanted to share my experience with you because it really was a great evening. I also want to share a bit about my Mom, who has been the most influential woman in my life. This post is a little longer than I anticipated, but I think you'll enjoy it, and hopefully it will inspire you.
LUNAFEST was established in 2009 by LUNA Bar, the event aims to connect women, their stories, and their causes through film. It's a traveling film festival that highlights the work of a diverse group of female filmmakers with unique and interesting stories. And one of the greatest things about LUNAFEST is that it's also a fundraiser for Breast Cancer, specifically the Breast Cancer Fund, 100% of all net proceeds go directly to charity! It's such a unique and exciting event, bringing women together, sharing stories, and empowering women across the nation. All while raising money to help prevent breast cancer, which is what makes The Breast Cancer Fund unique. Their efforts are dedicated to eliminating the environmental causes of Breast Cancer. Rather than funding treatments, they're working towards ending the disease all together!

The LUNAFEST Film Festival travels teach year, presenting eight short films across the county. The films are selected from over 950 applicants. Each film tells a unique story by, for and about women; making it the only film festival of it's kind. The films are about a variety of topics that are thought provoking, will make you laugh, and tug at your heart strings.

After the reception, we heard speakers from LUNA Bar, The Breast Cancer Fund, as well as a film maker from a previous LUNAFEST, Jen McGowan. You might have heard of the new movie Kelly & Cal starring Juliette Lewis, which has gotten much praise at film festivals such as South by Southwest! I really enjoyed listening to Jen and thought she offered a lot of wisdom, not only for filmmakers, but women in general. One of my favorite things she shared was to remember to think, "what can I give?" And not just, "what do I need?" She said to "always try your absolute hardest, then move on." Two excellent pieces of advice, especially for woman.

We also heard from Jeanne Rizzo, the President and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, who I found to be especially inspiring. Something she said that really struck a cord with me was; "We all have the capacity to change the stories we live." I think it's a great reminder to go out there and try your hardest to accomplish your goals. There really is nothing standing in the way except ourselves. She talked about how sometimes you need to cross the line to create change, something the Breast Cancer Fund is always dealing with. She said we need to "grab hands with like minded people, cross the line, and stay there until you get something done." It was the perfect way to introduce the films, and really inspired me to go out and DO, and I bet most women in the audience were feeling the same way.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect of the films, but I was pleasantly surprised. While I really enjoyed all of them, there were definitely a few that stood out to me, that I really enjoyed. Each of them touched on issues any woman can relate to, or has even experienced themselves.

My favorite of the 8 films was by a Spanish Filmmaker, Susan BĂ©jar called Chicas Day. It was about a young girl, and who you presume to be her mother, having a fun "girls' day" by the pool. Laying out, playing make believe, swimming, & dancing. At one point the girl says, "when I grow up I want to be just like you" and the woman tells her, "no, you're going to be somebody important." I don't want to give anything away, but towards the end of the film, the viewer learns more about the older female character. It was such a sweet story about their special Chicas Day, with an unexpected and thought provoking ending that says a lot about relationships and the women that have a big impact on our lives. 

Although that was my favorite film, I really enjoyed each of them individually. I don't want to give you boring reviews of all eight movies, instead I encourage you to attend LUNAFEST or find the films online. Because all of them are worth watching. Maybe plan a girls' night with friends and create your own LUNAFEST at home, or watch a few with your Mom. I promise it will be an inspiring and enjoyable evening!

After we watched all of them films, I was feeling so uplifted! It was really an inspiring experience to be surrounded by so many hard working, determined, and talented women. It's clear why LUNAFEST has been so successful, the event truly does bring women together. By sharing these stories, it encourages women to be the best versions of themselves by taking risks, pushing boundaries, and creating change. I was so honored to be a part of it all.

It was such a beautiful night in San Francisco and I was kind of on a LUNAFEST high, so after the show I decided to walk through the Marina for a bit. As I walked along, admiring the beautiful homes and taking in the buzz of the city, I couldn't help but think about the women who have inspired me over the years. The women game changers in my life, so to speak. I've talked about some of them in the past; my Gram, Grandma Norene, and sister. But of course, the biggest woman game changer in my life is my wonderful Mom.

When I think about the type of person I want to be, and things I want to accomplish in my life, my Mom always comes to mind. She has all the qualities one could hope to embody, and has found success in every aspect of her life: professionally, as a wife, a mother, seamstress, athlete, friend, chef, and her most recent role, a grandmother.

Growing up, my Mom and I used to have what we called "Mother Daughter Day" which is partially why I think I liked the film, Chicas Day so much. It brought me back to those special days spent with my Mom as a little girl.

Most of our Mother Daughter Days were spent working on craft projects together. One of my favorites was creating a little wooden doll. It was during the height of my sunflower obsession, I was probably about 8 years old. We decided to create a wooden doll for my room that would sit on the shelf, more of a decoration than a toy. I remember going to the craft store to pick out all our supplies. I felt so special that we were spending the day together working on our project, and that I was able to pick out anything I wanted to create my very own sunflower goddess. Once we purchased our supplies, it was time to head home and start working on our creation. I remember attaching the curly raffia-type string that would be her hair, and hand painting her face with rosy cheeks and a bright smile. And to complete her look, a straw hat with a big sunflower and a matching sunflower dress that my mom made. She was perfect! But even better, is the memory of spending that time with my Mom.

How special, that even though she was busy with work, managing our home, driving my sister and I to and from sports practice, being a wife, and making time for herself; she set aside a special day for just her and I. I doubt at the time she realized how memorable that day would be, but it is. That day wasn't just about making a cute sunflower doll for my room, but I learned how important it is to make time for loved ones. To really slow down, and spend quality time together, and appreciate the things in life that are truly important.

My mom has been a game changer in my life because she has always been there, every step of the way. Today, I'm lucky to consider her not only my Mom, but a friend. And someone I look up to. Somehow, she manages to wear many hats simultaneously. Most people are lucky to be really good at one thing, and sort of perfect their craft. Well, my mom is really good at a lot of things. And she seems to do it so effortlessly.

My Dad recently shared a compliment from a family friend with me, who had said after reading my blog, "she's becoming another Loretta." Which I think was the best compliment I've ever received. There really is no one else I'd rather be like, and I'm honored when people point out similarities between us.

LUNAFEST was such a wonderful experience. I'm so thankful to have participated, and for the opportunity to see these films. Even more so, I appreciate that it made me think about the women who have influenced me, and shaped the woman I am today. I think these types of events, that foster growth and inspire women to succeed, are so important! And I encourage you to attend LUNAFEST if you have the opportunity.

Have you heard of LUNAFEST? If the festival will be traveling to a city near you, I highly recommend attending. I promise you'll have an uplifting and inspiring evening! You can also watch the films online.

Who is/are the woman game changers in your life? 

If you have attended LUNAFEST in the past, or plan to this season, let me know what you think! I'd love to hear about your experience. And be sure to use the #LUNAFEST hashtag :) 

Many thanks to LUNA Bar for sponsoring today's story and inviting me to such an inspirational event! Compensation was provided but all thoughts and opinions are my own. It was truly a wonderful experience! 


August Instagram Round-Up

Hello friends! Long time no see blog! Sorry about my absence, I suppose I've been too busy enjoying life! But, I figured before we got any closer to October, I should finally share my Instagram Round-Up for August!

// There is nothing better than a girls night out with drinks and dinner! My good friend Nikki and I met up one Friday after work to grab a drink. One drink turned into three and sharing dinner at Elite Cafe. Love this girl so much and can't wait for her upcoming wedding in Mexico! //

// After much anticipation, it was finally time to fly to Palm Springs for a long weekend to celebrate my friends Bachelorette Party! We couldn't get in that pool soon enough! //

// A 4:30am wake up call is easy when you're flying to paradise for 4 days with your best friends! And of course, no vacation is complete without a cocktail in the airport before your flight departs! //

// Looking back at my Instagram, it's clear just how excited we were for this trip! Summer in SF can be rather gloomy, we couldn't wait to get out of the fog and into the sun! //

// My obsession with flamingos continues, I couldn't resist these little flamingo koozies for the pool. They were the perfect addition to the Bachelorette Goody-Bags we put together. //

// A little glimpse into the Bachelorette party madness! We had an awesome step & repeat made for the party to provide a fun backdrop for photos. And to kick off the weekend, we had everyone take a shot with Erica in a funny pose, and once they did we gave them their goody-bags. We got some of our best pictures from the weekend, it was hilarious! //

// One of the saddest days in August. I still can't believe that we lost Robbin Williams. He was a great source of joy and laughter, especially for our generation. Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook, Patch Adams & Dead Poets Society were some of my favorites. He'll forever be missed. //

// Nothing brightens my day like FaceTime with my nephew. He is simply the cutest and happiest little guy around. I really struggle with being far away, and not having as close of bond as I would if we lived closer. So these little visits fill me up with love until the next time I see him. //

// My girlfriends and I always watch The Bachelor together. It's our guilty pleasure and a fun excuse to hang out mid-week. To spice things up, we do a bracket with who we think will win; and the winner is treated to dinner at a restaurant of her choice. This time we went to a new restaurant in the Presidio called The Commissary. Talk about a beautiful setting for dinner! I love this city :) //

// Andrew's Mom came up to visit for the weekend and we went to brunch then walked around Hayes Valley for some shopping. I couldn't help but go inside and buy a few macarons at Chantal Guillion  for dessert. They're so beautiful and delicious! The salted caramel was amazing! //

// I was so excited to team up with Tillamook and Farm Box SF to create a recipe using their fresh summer berries and Tillamook ice cream! I shared this picture from my visit to the pop-up shop in June before I revealed my original recipe. //

// The Gotham Club! I was SO excited to visit the Gotham Club at AT&T with my parents. I took the day off work and brought my parents to the Giants game since my Dad is a big fan. And lucky for us, my boss let us go to the Gotham Club as his guests! It was so awesome, hopefully I'll have the opportunity to go back again with friends. // 

// My recipe for Marionberry Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches! It was so wonderful working with Tillamook again and learning about Farm Box SF as well. I had so much fun putting this recipe together. I actually have another recipe I created that I'll share in the next week or so (I know, I'm a little late since tomorrow is officially Fall). But, I had to do something with all that ice cream in our freezer! // 

What a moth! And now we're almost into October, where does the time go?! While I enjoyed my little blog break, I plan to be back to regular blogging! I'm trying to think of a schedule that will work for me, and be more consistent for my readers. How does posting Monday, Wednesday & Friday sound to you? I think that might be a good place to start! I hope to be organized enough to start that schedule next week.

Hope your week is off to a great start!

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