A Hole in Her Head

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Meet Melany. On her blog “A hole in My Head”, she describes herself as

“A 40 something daughter, wife, and mother.  I am a bit of adventurer and have always tried to live life to the fullest.   I served as an Army Officer and was deployed around the world, so I feel fortunate to appreciate the very gift of life and of our freedoms we take for granted every day.”

Melany lives across the street from my 95 year old dad. They have been great neighbors to my very independent father, and I feel comforted that there are good-caring people living nearby to keep an eye on him – and to rat him out when he’s been on the roof again messing with his swamp cooler!  THANK YOU Melanie and Ron for watching over the old man!!!

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Melany has had a very harrowing past year. Her young daughter found her laying unconscious on the floor after having a seizure. Melany was rushed to the hospital where she was  diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a sand dollar. Her life changed in an instant. It was revealed to her that the tumor had been there for quite some time. This revelation answered many mysteries that had been going on in her life that resulted in the ending of her military career. However, with one door closing, others magically open.

I want to share with you her blog.  Start from the beginning and follow her journey to her recovery.  We can all learn from Melany – She overcame, she became strong –  She’s a ROCK STAR!

http://mellovesnorcal.wixsite.com/aholeinmyhead

Lessons in Humanity – The John Gordon Story

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Meet John Gordon of Riverside California. His life got a rough start. A VERY rough start. Unfortunately, his story is told much too often. And, not many  of these story tellers overcome horrendous obstacles and make good lives for themselves. Even FEWER of them take what they learned from their obstacles to start a movement to help others- unconditionally.  This is the story of John Gordon – Rough Start – Successful Business Man – Creator of RAOK (Random Acts of Kindness). He runs this very busy FB group with 41,800 members and counting.

Here is John’s story in his own words.
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At about the age 8 my mother began to abuse alcohol and drugs. For several years, me and my two siblings lived in tents, homeless shelters, motels and even parks. My mother would panhandle during the day with her boy friends, and we ate at soup kitchens and churches for most of our meals. Food stamps didn’t last long because many were sold for cash, or my mom would have us children break them by buying .5 cent candy so she could accumulate the .95 cent change to buy cigarettes, beer, alcohol and drugs.

Hungry
I have many memories of the generosity of strangers. One in particular sticks out for me. We were at a Denny’s around 10:00 pm trying to figure out where we were going to say for the night; just sorta killing time in the heated restaurant. My mom had enough change left after she filled her needs to get us a hot chocolate to share at the Denny’s. We did have a little something for dinner earlier that night, but it was something like stale church bread and peanut butter; needless to stay we were HUNGRY. I remember sitting there smelling the food and my stomach hurting with hunger.

A Stranger Steps Up
The waitress walks over and said a patron in the restaurant would like to buy dinner for our family – anything we wanted!  My mother was suspicious of the intentions of the person and started to ask questions.  After reassurance that there were no strings attached, she accepted.

It Takes a Village of Strangers
For more than 20 years, I looked back on that day and wondered why a stranger would buy other strangers dinner.  For so long,  I could never figure out  why someone would do that? Why not make them buy their own food? About 4 years ago I finally got it.  It was just a random act of kindness!   Someone loved me even though they never even met me. Someone cared if my drug addicted alcoholic mother ate enough, though she chose to spend her money on drugs. Someone loved us with out condition! This happened many times throughout my childhood and without those strangers I may have turned out to be a different man.

Life Goes On
My mother is still on the streets to this day. I  bounced around during my childhood, and I lived with family members.  I was a handful, and I ended up in a boys home for trouble youth,  and I ended up going to prison for a few years for stealing dirt bikes.

From Wrong Turns to Right Turns
I got out of prison and was tired of the life, and I started my own business. I now have 40 employees and I have hired many ex convicts over the years trying to provide them a second chance and opportunity to succeed , an opportunity people didn’t want to offer me. Some of my employees started  out homeless, and through my employment, found housing and got back on their feet.   I have a kid with extreme autism that works for me now. I’ve been out of prison and self-employed for 12 years now and own three successful businesses.

I’ve over came a lot of obstacles in my life and achieved a lot of success. I became the man I am today, not because of my parents, but because of the kindness of complete strangers. I was taught the meaning of giving and kindness by strangers. I think the moral of the story here is that your small gesture can make a bigger impact then you may ever see or know. I have helped hundreds of people over the past years, and I can’t help but hope somehow- someway, I might be returning that favor to that person who bought that little boy dinner.

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The Birth of RAOK
My wife and I have vowed to feed others, to help those in need and to never forget were we have come from. I feel driven by the thought that it is my duty to pay back all those people who loved me without condition or reward, to pay it forward.
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RAOK has now helped thousands of members of our community.  We did a back pack and shoe drive last year collecting 1300 sets of new shoes, new back packs and school supplies for 1300 low income children in need. This is just one of hundreds of examples of our projects and events we have held over the past two years.

Thanks for reading and let’s keep the chain going.

DONATED ITEMS and Volunteers are in great need in Riverside CA.
3296 Call Drive, Riverside, CA 92503
We need infant and toddle boy clothes and shoes

  • Blankets
    Deodorants
    Mens’ clothing
    Non-perishable foods
    Slightly used clean, preferably folded clothes.
    Socks are always needed
    Belts

ROAK is not a 501(c) so your donations are NOT a write off. ROAK consists of purely community members who are the middlemen to help those in need. All donated items go DIRECTLY to the people in need.
“Our pay is the smiles on the faces of those that receive!!”

UnBreakable – The Story of a Wounded Female Marine

I just happened to run across this blog post this morning by Zoe Schaeffer.

This is the story of Kirstie Ennis.

She is a Marine that lost her leg in a Helicopter Crash during her second tour of duty in Afghanistan. The course of Kirstie’s life was forever changed.  She endured 38 surgeries to repair massive brain and jaw damage, broken bones and burns.  Read her incredible story on how she lives day-to-day that is an inspiration for the rest of us to get off the couch, quit complaining about stupid small stuff and get on with our lives!

Unbreakable: A Wounded Warrior Loses Her Leg But Not Her Spirit

The Tower of Niceness – and the CEO is only Eight!

12376153_976932982378334_3052490075932865198_nRiver Sharp was at the ripe old age of seven when he created a highly successful fundraising campaign/community in 2015 called “The Tower of Niceness.” Now that he’s eight, he’s a veteran in the world of raising funds and helping his fellow human beings. It’s not every day that you see kid his age wanting to do ANYTHING more than play XBox, let alone create a movement that gets scores of people involved and the attention of the news media! Is he what they call an “old soul”?? Maybe! I think he’s pretty awesome!

The  Video (Tower of Cuteness)

As I was scrolling through my news feed one day on Facebook, getting past all of the political rants, the funny dog videos, and the never-ending photos of people’s meals, I see a video of a little blonde boy wearing a ball cap with an over-sized bill sitting in front of a white background looking into the camera with a HUGE smile on his face. Oh, yes, I’m turning up the volume on this one. (I’ll put the video below so you can see what I mean!) After watching the video, I immediately donated some funds to this kid! Who wouldn’t? You’d have to have the heart made of coal not to!

River’s Story

With a passion for helping others, River came up with the idea of raising money so that he could put together care packages for the homeless and hand them out on thanksgiving day in Sacramento CA. With the help of his dad Brian, River put up a crowd funding page to raise some money. Dad thought it was best to put up a “doable” goal of 500 bucks. He worried that anything over that might be a little too ambitious to start with and didn’t want his “kid” to be disappointed. River, being the savvy businessman that he is, wouldn’t have anything to do with it. He keyed in $1000.00 as the goal , loaded our social media feeds with the most ADORABLE videos EVER (Tower of CUTENESS in my book) and BAM he raised $1700.00 in just a few weeks. River was able to purchase more than he expected of the items he needed for care packages such as toiletries, socks, food, clothes, blankets…even radios!

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So, on Thanksgiving morning while most of us were putting our turkeys in the oven, watching the Macy’s day parade all snuggled in our warm pajamas, River along with his 10-year-old brother Ryder and the rest of his family (and a whole bunch of Tower of Niceness Volunteers) were out bright and early in the morning handing out much-needed items to the homeless.

Oh, and a few TV stations showed up! This kid is a public relations genius!

Over Christmas, River put up a Toy Drive campaign to raise funds so that he could buy toys for kids in area hospitals. This campaign was a huge success that raised 1200.00 along with toy donations.

The Tower of Niceness is an ongoing community and River has been busy doing all sorts of community service. He hopes that ALL OF US will help build the Tower of Niceness with him!  Be on the lookout for River, Ryder and their little sister Presley as they take fundraising and community service to a whole new level!  I invite you to head on over to their site and check out what they’ve been up to and what they have planned next! Oh, and did I say their vids are AWESOME?

The Future

I was going to write something profound here about our kids being our future bla bla bla.. then it dawned on me.. somebody already wrote that!  Why reinvent the wheel?  You know the one.. It was written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed and made famous by Whitney Houston..

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

The Video that Started it All!

 

River and Ryder talk about  the Martin Luther King Jr. Speech!

 

 

 

Tower of Niceness Website

Tower of Niceness Facebook Page

 

 

Out of Prison, Into the Fire – An Unconventional Career Path

Meet Angela Batts.  She is a Fire Fighter for the US Department of Forestry every year from May to November.  While most people start their career path out of high school or college, Angela’s life didn’t quite go that way.  But it was while she was serving an 8 year prison sentence she found where her own fire lies. 

This is her story in her own words.  12575871_10153965890108678_866586984_n

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Eight Years in Prison

It was 2003, I was looking at my second prison term and a 25-to-life sentence but luckily for me, I was given a break and was sentenced to 8 years. My new address was the California Institution for Women (CIW). I was very angry at the world, mostly myself, and not ready to accept the fact that I would not be eligible for parole until 2011. I was on a personal path of destruction, simple as that. I was hanging out with all the wrong people, doing drugs, and fighting. I was building a pretty big rap sheet for myself.

When in prison, you get a whole lot of time to self-reflect and I eventually came up with the notion that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. It wasn’t until August of 2005 when I had the very sad revelation that I was going to catch my third strike and never walking out of these prison gates again. Scared of this thought, I knew right then I had to change my life and my way of thinking. I knew I had to make some long term plans of normalcy.

I inquired about the prison Fire Camp Program to just get out of prison and do something completely different. The Fire Camp Program is where they train prisoners to work as Wildland Firefighters. Once trained, the prisoners get to work on all the fires with the outside firefighters. This is a great program as it trains offenders to learn a good trade and the inmate firefighters are a vital part of forest fire containment. I wanted to embark on something that would challenge my very core. I knew this would be it, and I would get to leave the prison walls and do something good for myself and others.

At that time, I still had too much time left on my sentence to be accepted into the Fire Camp Program. So, I got my prison job reclassified and went to the fire house until I was able to go through the Fire camp program. When I was eventually accepted in the Fire Camp Program, I first had to go through the Physical Fitness Training, (PFT). This is a 6 week course where we get physically prepared for the grueling task of fire fighting. In sweat clothes, we run, do push ups and every other exercise in a timely manner to get us in physical shape. After we complete PFT, we are then sent to the Forestry portion where we do more of the same training but in our fire gear and boots. However, we also get to leave the prison walls to do timed hikes, deploy fire shelters, cut fire line and learn other aspects of fire fighting.

The training turned out to be harder than I expected! I was out there on the field crew struggling with blisters and bleeding, wanting to quit and thinking that maybe this wasn’t for me. I continued to push, hanging on to that thought of being scared and not wanting to be in prison anymore.

I was a great hiker and ranked at the top so I got to pick which camp I wanted to go to. I heard that Rainbow was more military style and I wanted to have structure so I chose Rainbow first.

Rainbow Fire Camp

In 2006, I graduated from my training and was sent to the Rainbow Fire Camp in Fallbrook, CA. Again, the experience was a little harder for me my first year but that feeling of being free from prison gave me the willpower to continue my path at camp. By the second year, I found my passion. From then on I was on a path of wanting to learn and know all that I could on how to fight fire safely, become the best firefighter I could for myself, and being an asset for my crew boss, my crew, and the program.

I was “1st saw” which is a leadership position second to the crew leader. I spent all my weekends and free time doing voluntary hikes to better my hiking and one-on-one training with the captains. After two years at Rainbow I got to switch camps and went to Puerta La Cruz Camp at (Warner Spring CA) to learn the ways of another camp and to experience fires in other areas. Between the two camps I gained so much knowledge and experience with room to learn so much more. I did a total of four years in fire camp and upon my release in 2011 I was sure and determined to pursue wildland firefighting as a career.

At the same time, I was scared to return to society after being gone for eight years so, I paroled to a Sober Living residence in Redlands to have stability and rules to live by. It took me awhile to adjust but I put myself through more fire classes at Chaffey College. I gained more knowledge and certifications towards a career I was so destined to achieve. Aside from school I ventured out to different stations introducing myself and asked questions on what to do and continued to keep up on my physical fitness with more voluntary hikes.

Soon I felt I was stable and strong enough to make it on my own, as I met my husband I returned back to my hometown in Big Bear. We had our struggles but we were making it in life and then I got pregnant with my daughter which stopped the pursuing of my career. I do not regret having my daughter, it was planned and I was so in love I just felt it was meant to be. June 5,2013 my daughter was born and everything in life seemed perfect once she came into this world.

Back in Prison

When my daughter was five months old, I happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, trying to help out a friend who was having a confrontation with another person. With my record and charges, I should have never been at that house. I should have left before things got heated when it was obvious things were going very wrong. I tried to help by breaking up a fight and ended up getting arrested. I was charged with five felony charges and again fighting a 25 to life sentence as a second striker.

With the help of a private investigator, enough evidence was retrieved to find that most of the charges were falsified and should have been dropped. However, the DA was not having any of it. The DA said that I was a habitual criminal because of my rap sheet and my two prior prison terms. The DA was determined to send me back to prison and had me sign a deal where I wouldn’t have to spend 25 years to life. I signed for attempted trespassing and the attempt to commit G.B.I. (Great Bodily Injury). With a prison term of 16 months with two prior strikes.
I was completely devastated and I could not believe that I was going back to prison for the third time. I thought I had a hold of life, but I got too comfortable and forgot where I had just come from. I went back to C.I.W. Getting classified for a job was taking so long that by the time I went to get classified to go back to fire camp I was told I did not have enough time.

I was very disappointed but determined to be a part of the fire camp program again, and with determination, I ended up having the wonderful opportunity to become a PFT trainer. Not only was I able to keep up with my physical fitness,( I lost 67 pounds) I got to work on my leadership skills and got to interact and help other women with their struggles. I taught them what worked for me and I found this to be more rewarding than going back to fire camp.

I have to believe that everything happens for a reason. I think that it was God’s plan for me to not have things go my way this time around. With a prior camp experience, I was able to stay as a PFT trainer and I was able to touch the hearts of many and motivate them with my fire stories and experience out on the fire line, many women were extremely excited about the prospect of fighting fires and couldn’t wait to get to Fire Camp. But it wasn’t just me, we had an awesome coach, Coach Nolan, and an awesome PFT training crew. I loved my partners, Kimberly Long, Sonja Keys, and Emilee Smith, I learned so much from them also.

Out Again (for the last time!)

I paroled October 10,2014. When I returned home, my daughter wanted nothing to do with me. I was a stranger to her and she was scared of me. This was the most hardest transition for me. My husband and I lost our house and we had to start completely over. Being the only source of income and taking care of our daughter my husband was able to get us a small one bedroom home for us to rent. I was not quite ready to jump back into working because I just wanted to try to regain a relationship with my daughter. I cried everyday and fought hard to not give up. It ended up being about three months before my daughter would let me hold her. I had screwed up and it broke my heart everyday. It was very hard to accept that I had done this to myself. This was a consequence I had to live with. I couldn’t blame anyone or be mad at anyone but myself. The constant daily rejection made me feel that I had failed as a mother.

House Fire

Three weeks after coming home I woke up in the middle of the night to our house being on fire. Hysterical, I woke up my husband and he quickly grabbed the baby. We ran downstairs and out of the house as quick as we could and just as we got to the end of the driveway the house engulfed in flames. The Fire Department said if we didn’t get out exactly when we did, we would all be dead. It was then, we had really lost everything. Sentimental pictures were the hardest to accept because these things are not replaceable. Red Cross had set us up in a motel for about a month, gave us money for food, hygiene items, and clothing. They also set up an appointment for me with Catholic Charities for housing help. Because of a fire tragedy, we were approved to be given $2000.00 for deposit and rent into a new home. We were blessed with a bigger and nicer home with cheaper rent and the whole community got together and donated so much to me and my family. Furniture, clothes, etc.

I was starting to feel depressed and did not understand why I was going through all these trials and tribulations with one problem after another. Still pushing forward we eventually got situated into our new home and my daughter was starting to come around months later. While I was incarcerated my husband had told me the news that my daughter was having seizures. So with all that going on, I had to also make it a priority to do all that I could to find out what was causing the seizures and find out how to deal with them and what to do. When I experienced my first seizure with her, I broke down and it was then I realized that enough is enough and I really needed to get it together. All of these tragedies were making me angry and feeling pity for myself, which I knew was wrong. I did not want to live the life of struggling and barely making it anymore so I could not give up on my passion and had put it to the side long enough despite everything. I knew I could live a better way of life if I could just achieve the one thing in life I had that meant everything to me.

Fire Fighter (on the outside)

In May, 2015 I went to The Wildland 59 Fire Academy at Victor Valley College. Upon completion of the academy, I gained all of the necessary certifications with a CPR/First Aid class aside from the academy to apply for a job with The United States Forest Service. I ended up on a type 2 hand crew, called The Mojave Greens when the fires were happening in Big Bear California. I was away from home for six weeks fighting fire. It was hard on my husband and daughter for me to once again be gone, but I begged my husband to bear with me and to please be patient. I knew in my heart that this was the opportunity and stepping stone I needed to land a job with The United States Forest Service, as it is not easy. He supported me as I made the sacrifice to be away from my family which was hard on me also as I was learning that this is the life of a firefighter at times.

While I was on crew I finally got that email where I was offered a position with The United States Forest Service as a Forestry Technician on an engine at station 34 in Mill Creek, Mentone, California. I had a tentative start date of August 9, 2015 but was having trouble with getting my background cleared so I was faced with another challenge. I did not give up because I knew that God had not brought me this far for my dream not to come true. Eventually I got cleared and started my job on the engine September 20,2015. I was in shock and could not believe it! I was on an engine working as a paid firefighter. I experienced and learned so much more and am so eager and ready for next season so I can learn more.

I am now able to provide for my family and with my husband and I both working, we now live comfortably. My relationship and bond with my husband has gotten so much stronger making it easier to get through struggles and challenges together. My relationship with my daughter is amazing, and I was able to take care of all her needs getting her to a neurologist who put her on seizure medication called Kepra. She has not had a seizure since she has been on her medication and she will be cleared off of her medication in two years provided she has no seizures during this time frame. I love my life, my family, and my job as a Wildland Firefighter!

What a journey this has been for me to get to where I am today. My new goal now, with writing this short memoir and sharing my story, is a deep hope that it will change the lives of others. Maybe not by just following in my exact footsteps, because my walk of life is not that of the choice of everyone, but maybe by giving you hope, determination, or strength to change your way of thinking, or just by loving yourself and believing that you deserve so much more in life than being in prison or being in a revolving door like I was. With determination and a strong belief in yourself, you can overcome and do anything you want in this life.

         

For I am a proud Wildland Firefighter for The United States Forest Service!

Angela Batts, US Forest Service

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Perspective of a Peace Officer

Salvatore Vitale Sherrif4

 

A Message from Sacramento Sheriff Deputy 

Salvatore “Sal” Vitale

As a Peace Officer it is not my place to form political judgment and comment publicly on affairs which are in dispute by the citizens of this great nation. Providing political respite for events which I know little or nothing about is neither professional nor responsible. As a paid employee of the people working in this great nation, to do so would be an ethical failure. Commenting on what I do know however, is entirely within my realm and to remain silent is a failure of equal proportions.

Inherently, Peace Officers across this nation are called to serve from within themselves via a virtuous soul dedicated to service. Defining the essence of one who ventures unknown dangers on behalf of others is inexplicable. Much like the professional soldier, common recognition of a greater purpose perpetuates the inner lining of motivation. Or, as it was put to me in the Academy over thirteen years ago:

“You can’t do this job without that natural fire which burns within your belly”

While police work is one of the last true professions in a country of bountiful opportunities, it is also a selfless, thankless job which most American’s know almost nothing about. Peace officers are also citizens of this nation and are composed infinitely of humanity. We do not require appreciation to do our job as this pride blooms from within by serving something greater than ourselves. Appreciation is cherished when available yet not necessary to fuel a moral, warrior resolve.

Peace officers respond to all emergencies, even where we are wanted least. Those who condemn us are often the first to call upon us and plead for our assistance. We are glad to provide the service and any “thank you” received is tertiary at best as it is not required to summon our aid. Peace officers often find themselves in the middle of a hostile battlefield where the enemy is unknown and only fractions of a second are available for decision making. As an experienced supervisor stated to me today:

“You are talking one second and fighting the next. It all happens in the blink of an eye.”

In recent months, my life and the life of my beloved partners has been increasingly threatened. As we do our jobs we continue to stare down the expanding barrel of a gun, seemingly filled with bullets carrying our names upon them. As my eyes see it, violence against peace officers has increased tenfold and a small adversarial fringe group continuously baits us into a battle which cannot possibly end. I have chosen to accept this challenge and respond the best way I know how.

At nearly the same time two New York Police Department officers were assassinated in their parked patrol vehicle on December 20th, 2014, I was in Uniform on the other side of the country giving Christmas presents to a broken, downtrodden family. The plan started with striking a promise to bring gifts to one family I had encountered during a disturbance. As this country is filled with generous souls, word spread via family members and people I do not know contributed what little they had to assist those less fortunate.

More money than I ever expected or requested came rapidly and continued to flow from those great people who truly recognized the need for assisting others. I personally know none of the people who contributed, nor did those contributing know the family in need. Two amazing women put the plan together on a whim and I am eternally grateful for the joy my Wife and her Cousin brought to the people of our communities.

As with all great acts of charity, the plan grew. Since I was scheduled to work Christmas Day this year, I brought several more wrapped toys and gifts and presented them to my partners in briefing for distribution to the public. Eager Peace Officers carried the wrapped presents with them and they were distributed to children across our area during calls for service. This was not a political move by our Department, nor was the plan approved by our leadership. It was simply humanity giving to humanity.

We have many more gifts to give and I am confident by Christmas many more will be made available to those who possess much less. Peace Officers do not despise the public, nor do they turn a blind eye to those less fortunate. We desire greatly for friends, family and community members to live their lives in peace. Removing the burden of violent criminals who pathetically prey upon those who are perceived to have “more” is our primary function. Productivity cannot survive while the threat of violence looms over a great people. Lives matter, it is true. People matter. And that is why we are here and no matter what happens; I shall never stop loving the communities I serve.

This is a private letter to those whom I consider my closest friends and family. Pictures of these events are attached so we may all see the joy of peace during a blessed season and perhaps divert somber thoughts, temporary as they may be. I desire no fame, no glory, and no thanks. It is truly I who must thank all of you for continued patriotism, ethical progression and hard work during a difficult age.

Keep faith in your communities and fellow man regardless of race, creed, sex, or religion as our forefathers intended. Give no quarter to those who threaten our freedom and seek vengeance as an answer for self-induced misery. Vengeance is reprehensible to a lawful, civilized, independent nation and we shall continue to serve under darkening skies.

It matters not to me who you are. If you need help and I recognize it I shall always do as I can. If I do not recognize it, reach out to me and I will serve until death. We all shall. May God bless all of you and this distinguished nation of free people.

Salvator Vitale Sherrif2

Salvator Vitale Sherrif 1

The Girl that Could have Changed the World

The Work of Zina Nicole Lahr from Stormy Pyeatte on Vimeo.

Creative Compulsive Disorder.  This is the ailement that Zina Lahr said she suffered from.

Recently I stumbled upon a video of a girl that is an artist, an innovator, a thinker, a rebel, a puppeteer, eccentric, a goggle wearing genius.  Her name is Zina Lahr. Zina is from a small mountain town in Ouray Colorado.  She dreamed of building robots and becoming a renowned animator/creator and inventor.  She is gifted.

Following Her Dreams 

She moved to Los Angeles where her dreams of becoming an animator and creator were coming true.  She worked on films where she created robots. One in particular a giant robotic Spider that was used in a film. Not bad for a small town girl who dreamed of doing this her entire life.  Her mountain home was calling her, so she returned to take care of her ailing grandmother.

Tragedy

On November 21, 2013  at 23 years old, Zina fell to her death while hiking alone near her home town. Her body was found after her family reported her missing.  In an instant the genius unique girl who suffered from CCD was gone.

In August of 2013, just before Zina’s death, her friend and filmmaker, Stormy Pyeatte agreed to help Zina put together a short film that would be used as part of her portfolio.  Using footage from the original portfolio film, Stormy put together this short.  This video went viral and this is when Zina was introduced to the world. I have watched this video about 10 times.

Steampunk Genius

Who was this girl who dressed in steampunk clothes and wore an array of aviator goggles?  She seemed child-like with a curiosity about everything.   She seemed to be a creative genius that knew no boundaries when it came to art.  The world was her canvas and she wasn’t afraid to paint it.

I googled her name and found her blog http://normallyodd.com/. This confirmed my theory that she was a very deep and thoughtful individual that would have been something this world needed. Then I found her youtube channel and she had been doing animated shorts and mini movies for the past 6 years. Her art is out of this world, her mind and creativity was astounding and no one knew she existed until her death.

Zina, I’m sure you made a mark on everyone you have ever met.  I know you left a mark on me and we have never met.

RIP my CCD sister.