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We all have our stories to tell. I've been interested in stories since I was a young child. I wanted to be in the home of others to see what their family storybook looked like. When my mother passed, and I was a mere toddler, I was disconnected. My childhood home was an emotional barren wasteland. Dad escaped and hid behind newspapers and novels in his own need for a world of stories, distracting him from inner demons. It's understandable because reading creates an inner world of resonance and beauty.

Of all mediums where story is told, film provides me my most cherished escape. My favorite films are the black and white classics fulfilling the idealistic romantic in me. I'm drawn to stories where the underdog gets through unimaginable circumstances to succeed in their hopes and dreams. I worked my way into the movie business, albeit by the seat of my pants and through the back door, to be a part of the greatest vehicle for imagination and communication. But my idealistic nature began to wither as I discovered that raw and beautiful stories were often torn apart, and cast out through a chain of executives and writers beyond the original one. Greed over story would prove to be reigning priority in a thirst for homogenized blockbusters.

Time continued its speedy march and Hollywood is in the rear-view mirror. I have my own stories to tell, which includes breast cancer and how I owe credit to moments of humor and exquisite beauty to assist in my survival. It's clear that continuing to write my book through all the long surgery recoveries provided a crucial outlet. Writing, and any form of creative expression, is the ultimate cathartic path. The audience knows when a story is honest, and is the very reason people seek story. We want to hear something that rings true in our own lives, and long to be moved and inspired.

When I was selected to be part of a 'speaking stories' event, I was one-of-the-five who hadn't performed professionally. We had access to a couple sessions with a wonderful acting coach, and I realized what an amateur I was. I picked up the technique fairly quick, but emotionally chocked in rehearsal once my bio was spoken over a music choice. I couldn't live with myself if bailed so I showed up. Although my heart raced and I feared I would fall flat, I didn't. After two paragraphs in the 10-minutes I read in front of sixty people, something came through me and it was as if I'd been doing it my whole life. Sharing my truth spiced with harmless sarcasm was meaningful, and I feel I'm creating something positive on the other side of a brutal journey. From the reaction I received, it was gratifying to know I achieved what I had hoped. Many had their own relatable experience with cancer either personally, or through family and friends so my words resonated and brought comfort. Human beings have been telling stories since ancient times for good reason.

Keep on swimming through life, Valerie

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