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Thanks and Giving

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Often I feel everything I am doing is going in slow motion while actual time keeps zipping by, but on Thanksgiving I took stock of how far The Silent Goldens documentary project has come since this time last year.  We’ve completed half of our principal interviews, edited and posted excerpt clips on thesilentgoldens.com, launched the monthly YouTube interview series Talking About Suicide Loss With, and I wrote an op-ed published on CNN.com.

While there are only so many ways to actually say thank you, I truly and consistently live in gratitude and recognition that every accomplishment has been possible because of help from others – from moral support to sharing knowledge and connections and, of course, the donations that are necessary to get this documentary done.  We are so close, the only thing keep us from reaching that goal is money.

Raising $50,000 by the end of January will allow us to finish principal filming in February and put us on target to having a solid cut of the film by the end of Summer 2020 when (breaking news!) I will be presenting at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Long-Term Survivors of Suicide Loss Summit in Cleveland, Ohio.  Any amount large or small will help us reach this goal.  The need to bring this conversation into the public is urgent and – with your help – I can do it!  And, of course, matching corporate donations accepted!

Tomorrow is  Giving Tuesday and as you spread around your charitable funds, please consider making a tax deductible donation here to The Silent Goldens documentary.  As my family and I break our 30-year silence about my mother’s suicide, this film will increase awareness of the issues facing those left behind and encourage other to speak.

Donations accepted through the 501c3 International Documentary Association and memorial credits available in honor of those lost to suicide.

Suicide affects us all – or likely will one day – and a donation to this project is a direct and tangible way to help me help the millions of other suicide loss survivors deal with the aftermath of their own loss.  

Even if you can’t give financially, please follow us on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and post about the project, like our web page, and subscribe to our Talking About Suicide Loss With series on YouTube!

Thanks in advance for giving!  Truly.

Ruth

Talking About Suicide Loss With Joshua Rivedal

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This coming Saturday, November 23, is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.  Throughout the world, events are held to honor those lost.  It is an intense but moving day and offers those grieving a community to help share their pain.  Local events can be found here. 

Every time I attend events like this, I am struck by how many incredible people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve formed out of tragedy. In 2016 I went to the first conference for long term survivors in Chicago where Joshua Rivedal was offering a workshop talking about how humor and creativity helped him work through his grief based on his fifteen-character, one-man play Kicking My Blue Genes in the Butt (KMBB), based on his memoir The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah. 

Since then, Joshua has achieved much Joshua Rivedal is the creator and founder of Changing Minds: A Mental Health Based Curriculum and The i’Mpossible Project and has spoken about suicide prevention, mental health, diversity, and storytelling across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia.  You can read more about him at iampossible.com and watch his Talking About Suicide Loss With segment here.

I hope everyone has a peaceful Thanksgiving!

And Miles To Go Before I Sleep!

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It happened!  November 3, 2019 at 8:19 pm at La Cienega near Durango my steady companion in life, my mystic teal mica Toyota Rav 4 reached 200,000 miles!  One day shy of 19 years and 4 months in my life.  

Creeping up on this number made me do a lot of thinking about what has changed in my life since I got that car at the beginning of my life in LA.  I’ve been reminiscing about the people and animals that have come and gone and how many adventures I took with my dog Riggs.  This was the only car he called his.  

It’s also hit me that I lost my mom at 19 and 6 days shy of four months.  So at the moment the car represents an entire lifetime to me.  When I noticed this, I also realized this is happening at a time when I’m taking major steps with The Silent Goldens documentary by reaching out to prominent loss survivors to help support the film and applying for grants.

Yes, it is blurry. But festive. I meant to do that?

Though I fear for the longevity of my car, I have no plans or desire to willingly give it up. We are a perfect match.  I, therefore, am looking at this new phase as our leap into the unknown.  I have never had a 200k mile car and I don’t know what will happen.  I, too, am putting myself and this project out there.  I have big plans to bring suicide loss survivor issues into the national conversation and am pulling out all the stops.

I wouldn’t say the Rav4 is still the smoothest ride, nor would I say trying to produce a documentary has been, however, we both keep rolling along!

Talking About Rebecca Schaper

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Tragedy of any type changes us in ways we never expected and sends us in directions we never thought we’d go.  Long after the sharp pain of tragedy subsides, many people are able to recognize unexpected gifts born from it.

My mother’s 1985 suicide derailed my life, but facing my grief 30 years later helped put it back together.  Ultimately the path I chose working in television combined with my personal goal to break the decades long silence in my family about mom’s death resulted in The Silent Goldens documentary, which I hope to use as a platform to advocate for suicide loss survivors for years to come.  Direction, purpose and a story – those were the specific gifts I believe my mother left for me.

Because traumatic events immediately gives survivors entry into “the club nobody wants to be in” with others who have had similar experiences, you make instant and deep connections with people you never would have met otherwise.  The many friends I’ve met are a more indirect and wonderful gift, and being involved in the survivor community and working in outreach with those having recent losses constantly reminds me why I am making The Silent Goldens. 

Through a series of friends (shout out Laurie Shiers and Gerald Everett Jones) I was introduced to Rebecca Schaper, the guest on this month’s Talking About Suicide With….  She had already produced a documentary and written a book about her family’s struggles including losing both her parents to suicide.  Since she had already done what I was trying to do, I was eager to meet her.  

Luckily, Rebecca comes to Los Angeles on occasion from her home back east and we had a lovely lunch with the conversation running start to finish.  Her story was much more complicated than mine, but breaking the silence that settled in her family after the first tragedy – her mother’s suicide – brought her the same type of healing, curiosity and purpose that I found.

Check out Rebecca’s Talking About Suicide Loss With… segment here!

Please subscribe to the channel to help us look good for grant applications!

You can find Rebecca’s book and film through her website rebeccaschaper.com.

The Silent Goldens Film Excerpts Available

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September has always been a big month for me since it’s my birthday month. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, also generally occurs in September.  Those two events, combined with the back-to-school vibe I continue to feel (despite the fact it’s been years since I’ve attended) give me a deep feeling of gratitude, a mental reset,  and a recommitment to the priorities in my life – the biggest one right now being The Silent Goldens documentary.

As I discovered just a few years ago, the planets also aligned to make September Suicide Prevention Month, giving me the perfect opportunity to unveil the new excerpt video created from the family conversations filmed in January on thesilentgoldens.com.  These clips are being submitted with the grant applications we’ve been writing this summer and accompanying our pitches to potential large donors.   So far we’ve had overwhelmingly positive response from all who have seen it, which is extremely encouraging and motivating!!

I must note that this is still a rough edit in terms of coverage, color correction, audio mix, and all the precision work that makes you not notice all those aspects of the film when they are done well.  It is our “proof of concept” that interesting conversations are interesting to watch and that talking about suicide loss is highly interesting.  Unlike a “teaser,” the clips don’t explain the whole story, but will ideally encourage anyone who views them to read the backstory and proposal information we send or that is on our website.  And then to give us money!  

Please feel free to share the clips, your feedback, and any contacts you have that might be interested in supporting a project like this.  It’s ready to go – we just need the dough!  

Also, we are always happily and gratefully accepting individual donations here, which are tax deductible through our fiscal sponsorship with the 501c3 Intl Documentary Association.  Our current goal is to raise $15,000 this fall to finish filming all my family conversations by the end of the year.  Memorial credits are available for those wishing to donate in honor of someone lost to suicide.  Thanks!

My Summer Vacation

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This year I really, truly had a summer vacation.  The old fashioned, family kind thanks to a fortunate confluence of events.

First, a friend offered me a cat-sitting job at her lovely home with a back balcony overlooking the Russian River in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, CA.  I took that job, asked my friend if I could invite the cousins who always host me in Florida and she said yes.  They took me up on that invitation and voila, a vacation was born!

Eric, Jennie, Katie, and Julia came for 4 out of the 10 days I was there, so I focused on doing the work I planned to do in my lovely hide-a-way prior to their arrival and gave myself the 4 days of family vacation immersion with the least amount of guilt I’ll ever allow myself to have.

Among our activities were going to the Charles M. Schulz museum, which I didn’t know about but was excited for as I’ve always been a big Peanuts fan.   

We met Eric’s friend from college and played Bocci ball at a winery.  We ate Wicked Slush.  Twice. We wandered the town. We canoed in the Russian River. And we saw Yesterday.  

It was mellow, it was fun, interesting conversations all around, and a good feeling being around people – despite my isolationist tendencies.  Especially important to the vibe was the fact that we were not on their turf or mine.  All we could do was explore and create each day’s adventures together!

Things That Make Me Happy Part 4 – The Squeegee

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Every once in a while I feel compelled to write about something that just simply makes me happy.  Today I share my thoughts on The Squeegee

There is a thrill I feel when I go to a gas station and there is a good squeegee waiting for me.  It’s an amazing little tool and having the right tool is often the only way to get the job done well.

The motion of doing it and watching the water disappear is soothing to me and I feel satisfaction in seeing the clean, clear glass.

I live in many lovely homes while dog sitting and now use squeegees in glass showers, saving so much time and energy in doing the wax on/wax off cleaning motion.  The squeegee makes keeping it nice fun.

My love of the squeegee actually goest back to 1986 when I spent time on a kibbutz in Israel.  The floor of the kitchen and dining hall were designed so instead of mopping, you would pour the water onto the floor and squeegee it out the door.  I don’t have pictures, but the memory is vivid.

Long live the squeegee!

A Punny Story

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Having been in a creative career most of my adult life, I know how long the process can be and how much end products generally differ from the starting vision.  Drafts of blogs I’ve been composing in my head for weeks or months always come out strikingly different once my fingers start flying over the keys.  Sometimes I watch in amazement as these other thoughts I didn’t know I had just seem to form on paper.  Recently this phenomenon happened in a simple, clear way that  while I was working on a simple art project I conceived of years ago.

I have an affinity for being “punny, ” much to the dismay of those who must spent time with me.   About 4 years ago I thought it would be funny to get an old weathered board and just paint “I’m bored” on it.  A board is saying it’s bored, get it? The picture in my head was a piece was a piece of weathered white board like it had been part of a fence.

The idea has never left my mind but for whatever reasons I never did it.  When I saw a board I liked in a friends driveway, the project was finally underway.  It wasn’t white though, so I had to think about things for a while.  I drove around with it for weeks before getting myself to storage to pull out my paints and painting tools and found a place to set it all up.  During this time a smaller brown board caught my eye.  It wasn’t the rough kind of wood I wanted, but I said to myself “Ruth, you really should try this out before you paint the board you spent 4 years looking for. You should do a practice one.” I agreed with myself.

I tried painting it white and but it wasn’t working for me – at least not on that kind of wood so I had fun with paint and then when I went to write my funny, punny words, I suddenly thought “would it be funnier if I did the accurate b-o-a-r-d spelling and the pun is made in the head, not thrown in your face.” And so I did.  All who I’ve shown it to or told about it agree that is punnier.

What fascinates me is the spontaneity of the change, given that I’d never thought about doing that before.  And that I immediately committed to try.  I wonder if I’d done it a year ago would it have come out different?  Was the wait necessary for my brain to make the shift?  I wasn’t ready to create this masterpiece?  I have no answers but am in awe of the creative process, whatever it is.  And the painting does make me happy – because it’s funny.

Talking About Dawnel DeRubeis

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When I started volunteering with the Greater LA chapter of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, I found an incredibly diverse group of people from all walks of life, occupations, and backgrounds.  Like with survivors everywhere, the details of our stories varied drastically, but the distinct pain and problems suicide loss brings united us. I told the chapter director I wanted to jump right in and do any and everything to help.  She told me about another volunteer who said the same thing and was already doing it – Dawnel DeRubeis.

When I met her, Dawnel had just been crowned Mrs. Hollywood 2016 with a platform of mental health and suicide prevention stemming from her own struggles and attempt, as well as the loss of her grandmother to suicide.  She was the emcee of the first AFSP Out of the Darkness community walk when I was on the chapter board so we chit chatted and became friendly. When I heard her explain what brought her to volunteering for AFSP, my mouth feel open because her words were my words – from looking for volunteer to try and avoid falling into a depression to finding our life purpose and making it a mission. 

Since then our friendship has grown and she has made a huge impact in the Santa Clarita area of LA, with her tireless work to bring educational programs to the community.  In Spring 2019 she chaired the first ever Out of the Darkness Campus Walk at the College of the Canyons there. Dawnel also fulfilled her pageant dream of winning Mrs. California 2017, allowing her a large stage for her mental health platform.  

I aspire to be as effective as Dawnel in spreading the word and see her as an inspirational role model.  Dawnel DeRubeis is a beauty queen inside and out!  Check out her Talking About Suicide Loss With segment here.

19 Years and 196000 Miles

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I have always loved to drive and am always up for a road trip.  For a time I thought about being a truck driver so I could just drive and listen to music all day.  Unfortunately, that dream died due to my aversion to driving large vehicles, discovered when I was forced to drive the family ’73 Chevy Station wagon instead of the ’72 Chevy Malibu I was used to.  That was big enough. Thirty-seven years later I have owned 3 cars in my life.  Two were small Toyota Tercels from around ’86.  Then on July 3, 2000 came the Rav4.  My dream car.  My travellin’ buddy. My rock.

As soon as I moved to LA and became aware of Rav4s I wanted one.  I had never been in one but they were cute.  I liked that they had the SUV style and sat higher than cars, but seemed to be of car-like size.  When the used Tercel I bought upon arriving in LA gave out, I went to Toyota, sat in a Rav4 and knew I had found “the one.” The all-important-to-me feature of seat to dashboard height was perfect and when I drove it, it handled just like a car.  I was ready to buy.

Because I can be impulsive, the friend I brought along to check me on that strongly suggested I test at least one other vehicle to be sure.  I reluctantly agreed and went to Isuzu because of the cute-factor of the Amigo.  The second I sat behind the wheel I knew it wasn’t the one.  It felt truck like and it drove truck like.  

Back at Toyota, I was checking out all the options, mentally prepared that it would have to be ordered.  When I decided on Mystic Teal Mica for the color, I was stunned that they had one on the lot, with the basic package I wanted and 7 miles on the odometer.  It had arrived that day or the day before. I drove it off the lot, rolling it into double digits to 11 on my way home.

Over these last 19 years and 196,000 miles, the car has become a significant part of my life and my identity.  It is a comfort zone and I am emotionally attached.   I think about all My Rav and I have seen and done together.  It has taken me on many adventures, especially when my dog Riggs was alive.  We went to the snow, the beach, the desert and cross country for a job in Florida.  It’s transported me to numerous jobs, meetings, events, and driven through many fast food restaurants.  Most of my California memories include my Rav4.

It was the first big thing I bought and paid off, securing it’s place as the one , and made the car the one and only  tangible piece of stability I had as a freelancer.  It represented freedom and escape.  If I had enough money for a tank of gas, I could get somewhere else.  I had no plans of where I would go or how that would help, but knowing I could calmed me. Now that I mostly petsit in other people’s lovely homes while they are away, my car is home base.  It helps carts my things from place to place.  I pack it up, drive the 5 or 10 minutes to the next house and unpack it. We are a team with a system.  It gets me.

This year, more than most, this anniversary also has me thinking of all that has happened since I got the car.  I had it before 9/11.  I had it before my dog and he has since gone to the Rainbow Bridge.  I had it before my cousin who is going into her sophomore year in college was born.  And at 19 years, I think how that was my age when my mother died.

The few problems I’ve had have been the expected problems that come with an aging vehicle, but costs have still been much less than a new car payment would be each year.  I am firmly attached and hope to drive the car forever.  We just drove up to wine country for a 2 week cat sitting job (I am a lucky, lucky girl!)  Ours is a true love story.  We’ve come a long way, baby!  Let’s keep rolling – I can’t wait to see where we go next!

_________________________________

When I moved to Los Angeles in ’97, I bought a used Tercel because it was familiar and I had loved my first one.  It came from Memphis, TN, bought when I left school after my mom died and moved in with my dad. It was cute (very important to me), easy to drive, and had a small turning circumference.  That’s the selling point I remember the dealing pushing and still think about anytime I’m trying to do a u-turn. 

My attachment to the car – and the freedom it represented – convinced me to take it to NY when I moved there and store it near the studio I shared with a friend, a move which essentially doubled my rent.  But I made use of it, leaving the city frequently for mini-adventures to Connecticut, New Jersey, or the Hamptons because the girl with the car gets the invites when friends with rich bosses get the housekeeps for the weekend!  I used the trunk for extra storage.  Finally I sold the car to the guy that ran the garage where I parked it.  After a few years, my work became life-consuming and I rarely used the car.  About the third time I had to get the battery jumped, he pointed out to me how much money I was wasting and offered to buy it for a niece going to medical school.  He made it easy and for a nice reason, so I let go.

The LA Tercel lasted about three years and died a sad radiator involved death along Santa Monica Blvd just past Highland.  Luckily I had just started a new job that gave me good standing with the car loan people so all I had to do was choose.

Before I moved to LA, I was certain I’d get a Mazda Miata, but as I saw them on the roads they just seem small and vulnerable.  All the SUVs made me want to be high up but I didn’t want a big vehicle or anything that felt like I was driving a truck. It felt like an overwhelming decision right off the bat and I didn’t come to LA with a job, so I quickly defaulted to the Tercel.  And I was happy.