New Radio Show – check it out!



Take Back!
The Universe LOVES to Laugh!


Tues 12-1pm
102.3 FM San Rafael OR
world wide @

Take Back! is a one hour political, arts and public affairs radio program highlighting the thinkers of today, with emphasis on California residents, to discuss how to challenge and reshape American ideals. The program introduces environmentalists, artists, intellectuals, comedians, writers, professors and more as a positive message of change and inspiration. We will get deep, and we will laugh at the absurdity of being human too!


Barbara McVeigh is a filmmaker, radio host, writer, producer, activist and mother in Marin County. She is also a former graduate student of Humanities at Dominican University of California.

SCHEDULE and GUESTS Coming up Next!


102.3FM San Rafael or world wide at

Upcoming Talk!

Please join us for film, food and conversation. I’ll also share some excitement about my upcoming film The Man Behind the White Guitar – it’s time for some positive vision and good energy. It’s the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. Let’s make it happen, California!

I’ve lived 35 years suffering under The Republican Party’s policies. And finally I thought I could start having some peace in my life when . . . what happens? Oh, my.

I look to share my story, as the daughter of a federal criminal under Ronald Reagan. What happened to me when I was 13 years? And what has happened to all of us, including Mother Earth? Time to change tracks!


Warming Hearts


At first I had a very frigid conversation with this great man. I tend to be shy and I knew he was an important figure, who understood truth. So, I was on guard and hesitant to tell him all the worries and concerns I have of the world these days. But, no one was around and we were alone, so I thought, well, maybe I should just be honest and frank and . . . trust. That’s not such a crazy way of being.

So, I opened my heart and I told him all my fears about what’s happening in the world today. And to my astonishment, he continued to sit thoughtfully beside me for a good long time, without interrupting or disagreeing once.

In fact his face actually grew stone cold  as my words continued to spill. All he remained gripping his pipe and clutching his book with hard knuckles, and stared at the snow covered mountains beyond, as if looking thoughtfully for the right words, a shimmer of light to inspire a spark, the essence of life and meaning for everyone in the world today.

And he remained  lost for words, or so it seemed, and I began to recognize he was clearly speechless.


The snow began to fall around us, and I didn’t want to become cold, like so many others have become. Slightly disheartened, I finally got up to leave him staring off into the distance alone that cold wintery day.

I looked back one final time, and I swear I heard him say “stone hearts, please thaw and start beating again.”

Mark Twain. . .

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”

“Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”


A Dystopian Story . . . Post the Great Collapse

So, I’ve been writing again. When I get into these modes it’s hard for me to even function as me, as I begin to see the world through my characters. Every waking hour I experience the world through the lens of my characters and perhaps even mindfully become them as I distill fodder blasting at me, from the sips of coffee I take in the morning to the way I chop vegetables for dinner  . . . is it a gift or a curse?

So these days I’m Patricia, the protagonist in the fictional account of the future, a story called FAN, Inc., where two worlds have emerged forty years from now, a Patriarchal World that is highly controlled and a Matriarchal Society, called the The Mushroom Colony which lives in secret underground in the wild lands, where people of The Patriarchial World are forbidden to go. Each world is governed by the divorced parents of Patricia (a feminized name of patriarchy), as she is the link to restore balance. Yet, how can she believe the task rapture-ready-angels.jpgshe’s been bestowed, especially when she is told the mentally ill in her father’s society, those who have been imprisoned and soon to be executed, are actually the healers, the shamans who bridge our world to the other world, the world of angels, without sounding mentally ill herself?

Patricia lives with her father, a madman who has built walls around his country in order to contain them and control them. “People can’t be trusted, Patricia,” he has told her since she was young.

Patricia has heard rumors about The Mushroom Colony but dismisses the rumors. Her thmother is dead, her father has also told her for years. Besides, she’s happy shopping and living the good life, why upset any order? And, her father is responsible for stopping Global Climate Change and saving humanity when the air had become so foul that his company FAN,Inc. commodotized fresh air, allowing every citizen to have their own “I-Oxogenizer” and “I-Mask.” He’s a hero, isn’t he? But, here’s the thing, Patricia learns her own father is now poisoning people through the air of his company, air that they are dependent on,  if they don’t abide by his laws as he’s taken every personal power from them – including the power of sex, art, music, information and even motherhood itself? Can Patricia stand up to her own father, learn to love her mother after years of hate, forgive her own brother for past abuse and risk sounding mentally ill herself when she takes a stand for the mentally ill who she’s learned are the healers, the shamans of society? She must expose her own father as well as her own mother and then sacrifice her own self serving happiness to help all society restore balance and begin anew?

It’s a story of anger, betrayal, spite and heroism . . . that ends with love on the highest level possible . . . going for it!


The crazy thing about writing this story is I get so much fodder every time I open the newspapers! When our own oceans are acidifying at an alarming rate, we are truly at risk of the very idea of oxygen becoming a commodity and being controlled . . . it’s time we appreciate what we have and fight for our own existence as caring, compassionate humans, taking responsibility for our actions.

Most of our oxygen comes from the ocean, not just from trees.

It’s an amazing awakening when you consider we abuse what is most dear to us . . . maybe we all need to learn how to love again, especially our own foibles.


I hope to be done with this novel by the end of February, and have it ready for readers by the first of May – Why May?

“May” the fifth month is named after the goddess of spring, renewal. It also means illusion in Sanskrit. It’s also May Day: ” The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the Floralia, festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers. The festival of Flora:

“In ancient Roman religion, the Floralia was a festival in honor of the goddess Flora, held April 27 during the Republican era, or April 28 on the Julian calendar. In Latin, the festival was known as the Ludi Florae, the Games (ludi) of Flora. Under the Empire, the games lasted for six days.[3]

The festival had a licentious, pleasure-seeking atmosphere. In contrast to festivals based on Rome’s archaic patrician religion, the games of Flora had a plebeian character.[4]


The Awakening Begins – January 20, 2017

Narada Michael Walden – “We need to stand up for each other. And make a change. I thought we made more progress. And here we are trying to come back together again. Hey, let’s not forget we love each other. We need each other. And if we don’t, this whole thing will fall apart again.” Interview, January 20, 2017

Harry Belafonte – “We need our artists. They are the truth seekers.” Interview, January 20, 2016

16112883_644043392435478_8559806566319947128_oJanuary 20, 2017 –

At 4am this morning, I heard an electric blast from the sky. Thunder ripped and then a streak of lighting bolted through the pouring rain. The last time I heard such a blast was when Jose Neto, a founding member of Fourth World with songs “Burning Money” and “Seventh Wave” ripped on his electric white guitar. It woke me up to the living. Imagine.




Brazilian Filmmaker Ronaldo Aguiar arrived in San Francisco yesterday from New York. Today we conduct our final interview with Narada Michael Walden, musician and producer.



Ronaldo and I will work toward finalizing the film The Man Behind The White Guitar this next week. It’s been a two year passion project and we’re almost there. We plan to share big.


Listen to music and begin to dance.

Then, be a rebel and be kind, generous and serve one another instead of your own self interest.  This makes you a rebel in
American society today.

We’ll all be dancing angels.

Be a rebel. Be a rebel. We need our rebels.
– Barbara McVeigh


I Need a Hero. Could It Be Reagan? Here me out . . .

img_5836So, I’ve always had this little problem. It used to get me into trouble a lot when I was young. It might have started when I was six and hopped over a chain link fence that said “Do Not Enter” to play with my pollywogs in the ditch below. Then there was the one time I snuck out of my bedroom window to gather with teenage friends in the middle of the night. We’d head into a local train tunnel, hold fast to the wall and wait for a train to roar by as we screamed our heads off feeling the rush and power.  Or, there were the other times in high school when I got so bored learning information I knew would prove useless in my life that I began to forge parent letters and convince my other high school friends to pack up in my car and head to the beach. Yep, that was me. I do not recommend this subversive behavior. And, how I got through those years, I’ll never know. And why my parents put up with me, that’s another story.

I still have that rebel spirit, but as an adult I’m getting smarter and understanding how to have more fun with it without compromising integrity. The values of honesty and justice ensure your spirit soars  . . . because these values demonstrate how human we are and not just mechanical computers or fragile porcelain sitting pretty on mantels. At this point,  I don’t know about you, but the values I see roaring like a train through our country right now make me want to scream my head off. And, no, I don’t want to climb any fences or think about forging letters even if my buttons are getting pushed and I feel I’m about to crack.

I do like to listen to Jimmy Carter’s Crisis of Confidence Speech of 1979 for inspiration. screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-9-10-23-amNobody listened to him then but that speech should be screaming at us today. President Jimmy Carter should be honored with the highest level prize a person could get.  .  . What? Right, he did already. Nobel Peace Prize 2002. So, why does the international community recognize and honor this American president but he’s not valued so much in our country? In fact, I bet most people would be hard pressed to think much of what he did. Why is that?

Maybe we should reflect on that speech he gave in 1979. He said “people are beginning to value more what people have than what they do.” I thought of these words while looking at our entertainment media, advertisements and television programs. I thought of this value again on November 8 when we elected a new president. We value people with money, property and looks. That’s the way it’s always been, right?

Well, maybe we have forgotten. In the years of the 1970s there was a very strong environmental movement and very passionate people who understood the consequences of fossil fuels and importance of biodiversity. Earth Day was created in 1972 following hard establishment questioning during the 1960s. In addition, a number of bills were passed: National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA), the Clean Air Act of 1970, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, the Environmental Pesticide Control Act of 1972, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, just to name a few.

Screen Shot 2017-01-11 at 6.52.54 PM.pngI remember watching a number of shows when I was a kid that made me think about nature. One of which was the story All Summer in A Day about a group of children living on Venus and never feeling or seeing the beauty of the sun until one day they do. Then of course, I remember the powerful Crying Native American ad   – that tear, that single tear said it all as he witnessed the pollution and traffic we had created in the modern world.  I cried my eyes out watching Born Free and I remember holding the phone begging my mom to call and donate money to the starving African organizations when TV commercials came on showing images of starving children and Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 3.32.57 PMhorrific disparity.

There was a large passionate community of people doing great things for everyone in that time period of the 1970s. Wikipedia calls it the “Environmental Period.” In fact, a film was recently made documenting the ocean activists of that time period  Coastal Heroes  about those who fought hard for us today so we can enjoy beaches and have a better understanding of uncontrolled development and consequences of fossil fuels, as the consequences of CO2 were already understood. In fact, the writes that environmentalism was so mainstream that the U.S. Forest Service’s Woodsy Owl interrupted Saturday morning cartoons to remind kids to “Give a Hoot; Don’t Pollute.”

Then at the highest government level we had President Jimmy Carter who placed solar panels on The White House and 17,000 wind turbines in the State of California. He called upon the American people to embark on an “adventure” toward sustainable and independent energy, calling it the moral equivalent of war.

So, if we had such a large movement of passionate people in the 1970s, what has happened to us for the last 35 years? The answer is more entertaining or tragic, depending on your viewpoint, than any Hollywood production could produce.

President Jimmy Carter also warned us of a right wing radical presidential candidate. Hisscreen-shot-2016-11-25-at-1-59-44-am name was Ronald Reagan, the same leader who called Carter’s “moral equivalent of war” statement “MEOW.” Our country in 1981 experienced a pivotal cultural shift, aligning with conservative values and new polices ranging from labor, environmental, health and economic trickle down agendas paving the way for billionaires to rise higher than the Trump Tower and our oceans to acidify, melting polar ice caps to threaten us with rising seas and global oil warfare. Then you can add 35 years of oil wars and spills, along with Global Climate reality today and understand it all makes a story for Hollywood . . . and appropriately so since the starring role was an actor himself. The first act, symbolically so, was the day Reagan removed the solar panels off The White House and said “get those off there.” Then he fired a striking union which lead to the dismantling of many unions, the binding thread to ensure a middle class, he pushed foreign oil back into our economy full throttle, and believed with his economic plan money would trickle down from the wealth to the rest of population. Was Reagan an idealist, believing in the good of people, and that billionaires would have ethics? Or, was he simply naive? Or, worse – criminal?

The judgement by us doesn’t matter anymore. Reagan simply forgot one simple yet vital fact, money produces greed and corruption. It’s found in literature since before the days of The Decameron and the Roman Church. It stirs drama and has created reason to build international churches and temples for thousands of years. Greed is part of the Western Mind Set, not human mind set. The Ohlone Indians actually valued friendship over the collection of wealth, and hunters always gave the most prize meat to the most in need, so maybe there is hope for humanity.

Essentially we’ve been living in the shadow of the Reagan Era for 35 years and we didn’t know it. Our culture shifted so powerfully in 1981 that we haven’t been questioning our values because we couldn’t see the light, that perspective and wisdom of a previous generation that went dark and silent.

So, what happened to those die hard environmentalists of the 1970s who put their time and energy into protecting us, the future generation, against environmental peril? Simple. They burned out. And who could blame them? Our current California governor Jerry Brown was in office at the time of Carter, interestingly so. Brown was a leading advocate, along with Carter, pushing for sustainable energy and working tight with solar and wind business consultants to ensure a growing future economic viability. But, when a political train comes roaring through a tunnel, as it seemed to do with Reagan, and as we can see so clearly with Trump today, who could blame those 1970 environmentalists when a president is elected on a landslide receiving the most electoral votes for any incumbent president, as Reagan received? Environmentalist today can have compassion and should not blame the 1970 activists for giving up then as we head into Global Climate Change reality today. But, we can thank them for making us smarter, because we understand the environmental stakes are at the peak and we’ve got big work ahead of us.

California is taking a stand for environmental work as a new conservative president and cabinet members take position. “They are the most dangerous group in the history of humanity,” the leading intellectual Noam Chomsky warns us today. Global oil and anti EPA leaders are taking charge in our federal government after a new generation of people have tirelessly been building environmental efforts with green energy. We understand how a train can come roaring through and this time there will be no laughing or hugging walls.

We must stand collectively in front of that proverbial train to ensure it stops, so we can all get on a new track of living right and take heed of Carter’s 1979 speech, understanding that we must value people for what they do and how they do it for all of us.

It’s time to change tracks.

screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-9-13-33-amOne final note. Michael Reagan writes about his father in his book Lessons My Father Taught Me and says Reagan would say it’s important to own up to your mistakes. Could the Reagan leaders of the Reagan Museum and Library own up to Reagan’s mistakes related to his fossil fuel push, economic policies and labor agendas that have taken this country down a dark road?

This is a test to see if the power of Reagan’s idealism shines through to those who truly value his legacy. If they can come clean, perhaps Reagan’s true potential as a great leader, a human being who cared about humanity with the ability to impart those ideals to society will shine bright and forever and help us out of the darkness.

Last year The Vatican had an art exhibit at the Reagan Museum. Even Pope Francis embraces today’s environmental movement and is trying to inspire. Reagan was tight with Pope John Paul II, his strongest ally. There’s a strong disconnect, one that is so evident.

db4d0d68f3ef3d6206e9f727aca06584I could use a hero. I’d love to see Ronald Reagan come riding in on a proverbial horse with cowboy hat and lasso and say “Whoa, I made some big mistakes. I am so sorry.” And make his namesake, “The Hero of the Republican” true and powerful for us all.

It’d take guts, a sign of a true leader.

And it’d be a class act, a perfect ending to any Hollywood production.









My Book is Available!

Passion continues and I have a powerful story to share – love, life and politics. And I reveal the most powerful shadow in American politics today resulting in 35 years of oil wars, oil spills, terror organizations and now ocean acidification.

14339208_10157424270400634_1274946778_o“My father is a federal criminal, my father is my hero,” Barbara McVeigh writes in her memoir Redemption, How Ronald Reagan Nearly Ruined My Life. Reagan fired her father for a union strike in 1981 leading him and 11,500 other families into years of strife. She lost her dream to be an oceanographer and her guitar lessons as her family struggled emotionally and financially. She blamed her father for not placing family first. Years later she takes up sailing, her late great uncle’s passion, who had been her best friend and by doing so, she learns to take the helm of life. As bitter truths emerge about her own fifteen year marriage, against all odds, Barbara makes a passionate project reclaiming her childhood dreams resulting in two first time films with the most important oceanographer and Brazilian guitarist of our time. Then she confronts the dark shadows of Reagan’s policies revealing the greatest crime in the history of humanity.

Barbara has a new dream now and the spirits are guiding her, as they had been all along.

Barbara McVeigh is a Bay Area sailor, writer, producer, film maker, activist and educator and knows the universe loves to laugh. She lives in Northern California. She calls on all Musicians, Mortals, Mariners, Angels, Gods and Goddesses to join her for one mission, “let’s advocate respect for our natural world and ensure a healthy, happy future for all our children.” Her film The Man Behind the White Guitar releases January 17, 2017, days before the US presidential inauguration as a message of positive spirit, devotion and loyalty. Racing with Copepods with Dr. Sylvia Earle is free online.

Zoos – Not for Kids. . . or Grownups

I can’t keep quiet about this subject any longer. I’m outraged, not at this poor mother who is now getting hit by a society looking to point a finger of blame, but I’m outraged at our entire society for not seeing what we are really dealing with.

Yes, it’s outrageous a poor gorilla had to lose it’s life. Yes, it’s outrageous a mother had to go through the worry of the safety of her child. But, let’s look at the big picture.

Why is a gorilla in captivity? Is it for education? Really? Or is it about our entertainment value? And, let’s be real about it. There is no need for these magnificent creatures to be locked up for us to stare at. It’s sanctioning business interests, not education.

Most children can’t even identify the trees outside their bedroom. Most adults could not even begin to tell you about the diversity in their local hills. During the filming of Racing with Copepods children interviewed local adults who couldn’t even tell you that San Pablo Bay, a huge Bay, was five miles down the road. I’m not joking. We are so out of touch with who we are and what we have around us. And we are losing it.

Stop with the zoos, I say. And stop the monkey business of how we value life.

What you can do:

  1. Petition your schools to stop zoo visits
  2. Support PETA and their efforts
  3. Wild orangutans are under assault because of palm oil plantations. Rhinos could be extinct in 10 years because of the ivory trade. Respect life. All of it.
  4. P1080628
    David Herlocker and kids discover animal bones in the hills of Marin County – it was as exciting as a live animal!

    Find local walks with biologists and discover the wild magic you have locally. In Marin County, Marin Open Space, specifically David Herlocker, has created an incredible model of nature education, activities, community building and respect. Vilda Foundation is another one for children to engage in their local nature, learning to be the stewards of it. Find inspiration in these models for your own communities.

  5. Hold a film screening in your community, library or school of valuable films and raise money to support local animal causes. Remember the film Born Free? It’s message is stronger today than ever before . . .
  6. And most importantly, look at what you have versus looking at what you don’t have and shouldn’t have to begin with. And if you’re quiet about, then you’re not helping anybody. And, please don’t even tell me you “have peace in your heart.” Good for you, but it takes people with courage and honesty to use their voice in order to create that peace for everyone. Use your voice and your actions to create a better world.


Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 3.32.57 PM

Graduation. . . Humanities

A huge thank you for your support these last two years. It’s been a ride and the ride is just beginning. I finished my graduate work at Dominican University of California and will receive my Masters of Arts and Humanities at the end of the year. Because my final project is political, I’ve opted to finish my final paper in December in order to use this upcoming election as fodder for my project.

As the daughter of a “federal criminal” under Ronald Reagan, I have a few bold statements to make about energy policies set under Reagan after the Carter Administration (see Crisis of Confidence Speech – 1979) that have resulted in the acidification of our oceans and global climate change. We had been on a good track under Carter with the newly established Energy Department, solar panels on the White House and 17,000 wind turbines in the state of California. We were on our way to independent, sustainable energy. Today, The Republican Party and big business, primarily OPEC, need to come clean with the propaganda they used for that pivotal election between Carter and Reagan and the fossil fuel legacy that have polluted our children’s world, in the name of money.

The biggest lesson of my life started when I was 13 years old in 1981 when my father, a union man, striked against Ronald Reagan in what has been called the second greatest labor event in American history – stand for truth and honesty, even if it hurts. That strike had nothing to do with money, as the media, influenced by OPEC, portrayed it. Instead, it was about integrity and being your word.  No university degree or money could ever give me what my father gave me – and that is it takes guts to do what is right in this world. Stand by it, because there is nothing else in life worth more than those principles, even in the face of losing everything. Truth always reigns. Thank you, Dad.

We have a generation of children coming into this world facing climate change, melting polar icecaps and acidification of oceans. They are angry and one day they will be asking us adults big questions. “Which side – which side are you on?” Jackson Brown sings in his song. If there was ever a time in the history of humankind to take a stand, unify, get creative and make change for the positive, it is now.

A little picture to share with you all. Thanks, again, for all your support. I’ll be sharing a message in about three weeks and I hope you’ll support me.

My two children have been troopers these past two years. My son tells me he now has a new Halloween costume, so I’m happy my gown and hat will continue to serve with meaning and purpose!

A Vision – New Hope with Music

It’s about taking back  dreams, those that I lost because of Ronald Reagan when I was 13 years old. I lost my dream to be an oceanographer and my guitar lessons . . .as my family faced hard emotional and financial years when my father was labeled a federal criminal.

It’s a labor of love as I begin to wrap up a documentary film, my first film as director and it’s the second film I’ve ever made (I’m holding my quivering knees steady as I dive deep to share a story about positive spirit at a time I believe we need it most, with some of the most powerful musicians in the world who I admire greatly. It’s a gift and one that I humbly accept with humility and responsibility.

It’s about passion with those who have passion.


My very first film Racing with Copepods that I co-wrote and produced went international with arguably the most important woman on our planet today. It features Dr. Sylvia Earle who is advocating healthy oceans and Hope Spots with world leaders and is speaking at the Paris Climate Talks. The film was funded by The Schmidt Family Foundation and was the first project I ever conceived and grant I ever wrote and was awarded. Half way through the project, the foundation offered us additional funds, as they believed in the project. I was driven by pure passion for the want of a voice in what is the most important message in our world today for the future of our children – advocacy for healthy oceans. I’ve called it a spiritual experience, as the project moved through me, and I’m completely humbled by it.

photo by Ronaldo

This time I have been honored with incredible trust to make a film with  one of the most important and under-recognized musicians of our times, Brazilian Guitarist, José Pires de Almeida Neto. I have equal if not more passion for this project.

Deborah Santana  has given us her vote of confidence with seed money from her organization Do A Little Fund. I’m reaching out to others to join a vision and create a powerful story to share with many.

Brazilian Guitarist José Neto has lived by values of loyalty, devotion and having a positive spirit which are carried in the spirit of his music. We are  making a film giving light on those who have inspired him through his own musical journey through Brazil, The United States and England. He was with Harry Belafonte for 30 years and has been with Steve Winwood for 14. He was a founding member of Fourth World with legacy Brazilian Greats Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, and he has own band, The Netoband, with Frank Martin, Gary Brown, Celso Alberti and Cafe de Silva for 30 years.

“…as soon as he touched his custom-guitar, sending a shower of harmonics into the the silence, he rendered all musings about categorisation redundant, . . . he demonstrated just how much musical territory, opened up by Hendrix in the 1960s, still remains for subsequent generations of guitarists to explore.” The London Times

“He is in service to music and not to fame.” Marin IJ Journalist, Paul Liberatore

“Jose is a great artist that shows that humanity and art are one and the same!” from one of his fans.

“Our film The Man Behind the White Guitar carries a spirit that touched me years ago when I first listened to José Neto’s music . It awakened me to life. It’s powerful.” – Barbara McVeigh

This project goes deep for me. Not only am I a huge fan of great guitar music and José Neto is a master of the instrument, I value his choice of living a life true to oneself and to his own music despite deep life challenges and falling into the traps that are so convenient and luring.

Why am I making this film and what does it mean to me? We have to take a dip into thirty three years ago. . .

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 8.34.06 AM.pngYou see, in 1981 when I was 13 years  I had a plan to study oceanography at Santa Barbara University after seeing a blue sea star all alone in a tank. I also I loved my guitar lessons. I had big dreams. Then August of that year my father was fired by Ronald Reagan and labeled a federal criminal during what was called “one of the most important events in late twentieth century U.S. labor history” by labor historian Joseph A. McCartin, (i.e. The Air Traffic Control strike in 1981). Fear rose that my father would be imprisoned (ABC NEWS LINK HERE) as other strikers had been. The union demonstrated incredible loyalty and unity and most families lost everything and had to rebuild their lives.

L1986-45_06My family life took a very tumultuous turn financially and emotionally. It almost ruined us and 13,000 other families across the country. Neighbors turned on us, siding with a president “who will put our country back together,” as my own grandfather said. My middle school history teacher encouraged me to learn good work ethics and be his house cleaner, until my mother became enraged leaving my teacher shaking his head at her believing he was teaching me good values and my family was not.

My teenage years were filled with anger and resentment, erroneously and blindingly directed toward my father believing he followed his ego and was not being loyal to our family. Quite honestly, I’m surprised I survived those years both physically and emotionally as I made many self destructive choices subconsciously believing I came from a bad family and my father who didn’t care.

I never got those guitar lessons back nor was I able to pursue a degree in oceanography at Santa Barbara University. With major financial difficulties, my parents struggled to recoup everything they lost and regain confidence and their own self respect.

Finally in my early twenties I became intent to put myself through college at San Francisco State with a new dream to write, travel and share the beauty of this world. They were hard years with minimal social life and big sacrifices. But I did it and emerged debt free and ready to take on the world with traveling, writing and living life fully. My first year out of college I taught at a university in China (got Teacher of the Year award!), traveled through Europe, The Balkans (even Albania), Cuba (yep, snuck in and out, afraid of US penalties, not Cuban) and Guatemala. I wrote as a journalist for public radio and joined writing groups in San Francisco.

But, then life happens, some like to say.

Over the course of the last fifteen years I gradually discovered I was not living a life true to myself nor having my dreams or opinions valued by the family I married into. Before I knew it,  I was in a marriage to a wealthy European family, living in a big house where I had no voice or decision making powers. My mother in law reminded me how lucky I was to have a big kitchen, a house they had given him and arguably wasn’t mine, even though I had been paying mortgages and cashed out my own retirement check that I had saved when working as a full time student to make property taxes on the house. Yet, any work I tried to do whether teaching, writing or running a nonprofit youth sailing organization was criticized and my ideas were never right. I became the proverbial house cleaner and even those skills were criticized! Yes, I do know how to put a spoon in the dishwasher, thank you very much.

What happened?

Completely unhappy and sapped of spirit, I continued to try to make it work for the sake of my two children and holding on the ideas of a family unit, doing work even though I was told why it was wrong until I realized I had no voice in their education and I was not living by the very values that go deep for me – simple living,  living creatively and supporting educational models for my children that instill values of respect, humility and integrity.

It wasn’t much later when my 12 year old daughter began to taking lessons with Jose Neto whom I had met first at a Zen Meditation Center then I’d bump into him at a local bakery. I would sit with him and my daughter during the lessons, and  the sound of them talking and the plucks of the notes began to stir something in me. I was taken back to my own childhood memories I had long forgotten – playing with pollywogs in the runoff ditch, climbing trees with my dog overlooking a green valley and playing on the beach with my brother and sister. I remembered my dreams, too.

As my daughter’s guitar lessons continued my curiosity about Jose’s history deepened.  He is humble and self effacing. He didn’t even have a Wikipedia entry despite the fact he’s in league with highly recognized world musicians. I could find very little of him online. But then I listened to  one solo that he played , a small community performance online, and a spirit shot through me like an electric blast bringing a sense of aliveness into my own half dead spirit. I must have listened to it a thousand times.

A passion began to grow in me, like a bursting seed, cracking open a shell that I had been living in for years. Not soon thereafter I wrote for the grant for a film project, first film I ever made and first grant I ever wrote.  I received the funds, and the grant manager told me it was the most creative proposal she had ever received. I left the large house with merely my clothing and two tupperware containers and dived straight into the making of Racing with Copepods, a film project to reclaim my adolescent dreams, create my voice and write my first film about the ocean, with the hope that my pure good intentions would help others, and my partner of 22 years and in laws would understand my conviction, beliefs and drive.

Hard truths emerged during the making of the film  about my partnership, friendships, and sisterhood that were painful to discover. I had found people in my life to convince me I did not have a voice and my opinions didn’t matter. I discovered how much patriarchy and value of money runs deep in our culture.

AND gold was revealed when true friends with integrity, supporters and my parents showed me the deep value of loyalty and stood with me through some of my darkest hours as I began to learn about myself and choices I  had made based on an idea that I had crafted as a 13 year old child that I wasn’t supported and I had no voice.

Jose Neto’s music is powerful. And we’ll be able to see and hear that positive light with an electric blast of a guitar and follow the story of a living legend as he emerges front and center stage with the story of his life and those who have inspired him from Brazil, New York and England.

At a time when our world is becoming most vulnerable, it’s opportunity to share the incredible values of loyalty, devotion and positive spirit through the power of music, a universal language.  I believe this film will help us get there. And even through the saga over the last 33 years and hard pain this last year, I have incredible hope and I’m incredibly positive that we all can rise to our better selves and recreate a new story for our future, reclaim our voices as people and support one another through major changes.

  • * *  *

And, just for the record, last year while sleeping aboard Summer Solstice in San Francisco, I woke up in the middle of the night recognizing my father is my hero.  He stood his ground against a powerful president who advocated energy policies and an economy that have lead us into the environmental challenges we are all now facing today and showed me the courage it takes to stay true to yourself and your own convictions in the face of losing it all. I am now understanding the injustices of patriarchy and I am also standing up to what Reagan’s policies have done to our planet and rewrite history so we can look to the future with a positive vision.

Be reminded, Ronald Reagan pulled the solar panels off The White House that prior President Jimmy Carter had installed, took away vast amounts of funding, crushing environmental organizations across the country and pushed for more demand of oil. It’s time to revisit history and learn from our judgments, as we need to look within ourselves since we followed Reagan’s policies. And maybe humanity can learn from the Air Traffic Controllers of 1981 and unite on a level never before as we fly into a new era of hope and heal this planet . . . and ourselves.

I am going deep now.  My father celebrated his 80th birthday in Monterey with me, my children, The Taylor Family and Dr. Sylvia Earle, the Oceanographer who is 80 years old herself , when my daughter and I became PADI certified last year and I saw blue sea star right where it belongs.

It was the best day of my life.


Thank you for believing in us.

Help us with our film – THE MAN BEHIND THE WHITE GUITAR

There are other ways to support – consider hosting a house party, share the story, campaign and contacts with foundations and others who can share this vision.



Photos above by Taylor Griffith, Renaldo Aguiar, Unknown and Maia Miglio, respectively.