Music is a true love of mine and I am very happy to be sharing some of mine with you now in this project. I have been writing, singing and performing songs since high school, songs inspired by my life as well as by my work— I divorce people for a living!
My work has taught me about the true meaning of love. Love is about how you feel inside yourself each day, what you create in the space you inhabit, what you want to make of your life in the time you have, and what you want to share with others— whether your children, family, friends, co-workers, or strangers you meet who could, after all, become friends, or family in time.
When you contemplate these questions, what do you come up with? I came up with the idea to make a music video for Tell Me Do.
When I played the song at a club right after I wrote it, I felt something magical as I watched people in the audience responding to the music. Their enjoyment and pleasure inspired me to make this music video, and with your help it can happen.
The music video will add elements of visual beauty, art and dance through the work of choreographer/art director Cati Jean and cinematographer Birgit Rudel. I feel honored and very excited to have the opportunity to work with each of these wonderfully talented artists. Birgit has an amazing eye for sumptuous beauty in film, video and photography, and Cati’s creative energy and multi-faceted expertise guarantees an exciting result.
This project is important to me because I have struggled all my life with self-doubt and fear stemming from having grown up in a household under the constant threat of, and acts of, domestic violence, physical, mental and emotional. I did not quite realize how much that background limited my horizons until I decided last year to re-commit myself to making music, something I started in my teens as a self-taught guitarist and singer/songwriter. When I began learning to read music and to play the piano in group classes at Santa Monica College, I found I had to pick up where I left off emotionally as a teen. For this reason, I am dedicating Tell Me Do to women and children who have survived domestic violence, and to those who love them.
To help bring this project to fruition, I founded All-In-Love.Org, a nonprofit corporation helping women and children who are leaving or changing violent family relationships, and adults who suffered from abuse in childhood, to move from surviving to thriving in their lives. The mission is simple: to help you feel good so you can live the life you want to be living.
Last night at the Laemmle Theater in Encino, CA I saw the new film Divorce Corp, after which the people who made the film sat on a panel for a Q & A. They are putting out a book and creating a movement to reform family law nationwide, they said.
The film featured situations from across the nation and interviews with personalities from the Los Angeles area family law profession, including Dennis Wasser and his daughter Laura Wasser, Sorrell Trope, Stacey Napp, Gloria Allred, and private investigator John Nazarian (providing some welcome comic relief).
The panel seemed to be an odd mix of disgruntled men protesting court involvement in family matters at divorce time by highlighting various abuses of power and position in the system. It compares the US and Scandinavia (where parties handle their own divorces with a court’s approval after 6 months to think about it), saying Scandinavia is successful, in contrast to our failure.
Filmaker Joseph Sorge and other panelists made claims such as that the US is only 6% away from equal pay for all, and that child support should only be $150 a month. Sorge said that he encourages men and women to still form traditional marriages, but to do so with private contracts. Another panelist suggested that people shouldn’t get divorced. Sorge said that their efforts are not being supported by women’s groups, but that theirs is a “gender-neutral…message of love.”
When I stood up in the Q&A and mentioned that the panel of speakers was all male, I was booed by a man in the audience. I turned to him, “The panel is 100% male. How is that gender-neutral?” The filmmaker invited me to come up on stage. I declined, saying I was interested to know more about what is going on in Scandinavia in terms of education, and whether they have situations where one party makes $350,000 a year, and one makes $35,000 a year, and said this is the type of situation child and spousal support are meant to address. These are concerns that were not adequately addressed in the film.
Despite Scandivia’s universal health care, free education, and high taxes, the filmmakers failed to make the connection between America’s troubled economic system and the resultant inequalities between married people (due to lack of resources such as access to affordable medical care, higher education, better paying job opportunities) as the underlying reasons for spousal and child support. They focused instead on corruptions in the system in order to do away with having to pay support or otherwise follow court orders. They framed their issue as putting parents’ love for their children first instead of the courts’ broad discretion in the “best interest of the child.” Another Q&A participant commented that there needed to be more actual focus on the children.
For all the axe-grinding, sometimes anger fuels positive change. But as it is anger that fuels exploitation in family law litigation (noted by panelist Nazarian), so too will anger fail to bring positive change to American family law. For that, we need more open communication and discussion, and I applaud the filmmakers for getting the ball rolling.