Texas Beaches

Most people don’t really think of the beach when they think of Texas, but this state actually has a huge coastline. It takes about 8 hours to drive all of it.

Texas Coastline. The closest beach to our house in San Antonio is about 2 1/2hrs south at Corpus Christi, and another half hour out to Port Aransas on Mustang Island. If we want to go to a really nice beach, we make the 6 hr drive down to South Padre Island, near Brownsville and the Mexican Border.

I was hoping that this year we’d get to lots of diving in the Gulf. There’s quite a few spots that are world known. The Texas Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary, the oil rigs, the Matagorda Island Liberty Ship Reef and Seven and One Half Fathom Reef are just a few of the places to go diving in the gulf. Whether you want to see coral, fish, hammerhead sharks or do some wreck diving, Texas has it all. It’s just starting to get warm over here. I’m a wimp about cold weather diving, so I was excited about the warm temperatures coming along. Now, however, I’m not sure we’ll get to do any diving in the gulf this year. The oil disaster is just growing by the day. Right now, it’s headed towards Florida, which is devastating for them. However, all we need is one eddy to spin off, or for the Hurricanes to start, and who knows where the oil will end up.

Matt and I went to Corpus Christi with the Jeep club this weekend. We thought about not going, but we thought we’d better enjoy the beach while we could. The water was beautiful and clear and almost body temperature. It was choppy, but it’s so shallow for so far out, it’s not too dangerous. It’s turtle season, so the turtle patrol was going up and down the beach. Matt actually saw one out in the water as it swam right by him.

So, now David Ulloa, my other dive buddy and Going Down partner and I are trying to work out how we can best help with the civilian volunteer clean up effort in the gulf. David moved to Florida last year, so right now, it’s headed towards him. He’s from Texas, so either way, it’s also going to have a personal impact on him. Matt and I are looking at how fast it’s moving, and are preparing to head to Florida if it hits there first. There’s some great civilian volunteer efforts going on. From hairdressers donating all their clippings which get made into booms, to people donating their boats which are taken out to scoop up the crud.

The biggest problem is how toxic the oil is. You can’t just go out there and get dirty. It’s extremely poisonous. You need hazmat suits, special equipment and all that jazz. It’s crazy how something that so many people are so dependent on can do so much damage.

So, right now, David and I are watching and waiting for the best opportunity for us to pitch in and help without getting in the way. I’m hoping that they can get a cap on the thing before it gets too much worse. People are already being affected. Fishermen, diving groups, people who live on the shores in Mississippi. We’re so used to getting our oysters, shrimp and fish from the Gulf, but now they’re not all safe to eat. Divers can’t go to certain areas anymore, incase they come into contact with the oil. Oil rig diving is huge here. I’m guessing that may get canceled for a while….

I guess all we can do for now is hope they get the leak stopped and that we can all pitch in and help with the cleanup. I know I’ll be there, trying to save some manatees!

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The Surreal Life of a Former Child Star

It’s funny how life can be so surreal sometimes.

I’ve lived here in Texas for 10 years now. We’ve traveled a bit, including a couple of trips back home, but for the most part, I’ve spent the past 10 years being just your average Joe. Nobody over here really knows about my life back in Australia. The few people who do know that I was once an actress only really know because they’ve been to one of my parties where another Aussie Expat has let the cat out of the bag and said that once upon a time in a land far, far away, Sarah was on a popular TV show…. For the most part though, I just tell them it was on a long time ago and it’s not a big deal and they leave it at that. I’m so normal over here that sometimes even I forget that I was once an actress. I tell them “Hey Dad..! was like Full House and I was like Candace Cameron. Nobody’s heard of her since then either…. ”

So, when I’m out and about and look at my tweetdeck and see my own name come up, sometimes I’m like, “Huh?” Yesterday, I was out working at a promotion and saw a couple of tweets. I figured someone may have been slow on the uptake, or I had somehow come into Andy Blume’s wrath of hate again.  So when I clicked on the link and saw it was a new article, it was kinda strange.

really? Page 3? Surely there's something more important going on.

I sent the link to Matt and when I got home he told me he thought something was going on, since he had been getting calls all weekend from strange journalists looking for a story. He thought it was odd that people were all interested again. I had also received emails from a couple of journos, but forwarded them on to the Detectives at Strike Force Ruskin, since I’m not supposed to talk about the case at all while they’re still investigating.

It’s very strange when you’re in the news. It’s even weirder when you’re so far removed from it that you don’t even know it’s happening except when you happen across it like on Twitter or someone sends you a newspaper clip like the one above. It’s very surreal. It’s also amusing that it took journo’s over a month to find that blog post. Oh well, I guess it was a slow news day in Australia.

But, I guess at least the good thing is that they mentioned Bravehearts. I am super excited to be one of their Ambassadors. I’m going to be coming home in September to attend the White Balloon Day event. They’re going to be having a Celebs Who Say NO campaign and I get to be part of it. I’m not sure I really qualify as a Celeb, as I think of myself as just another has been Former Child Star, but I’m flattered somebody thinks so. If it means I get to do something good, I’ll take the title.

So, make sure you keep an eye out for any White Balloon Day events near you. It’s not to early to start planning something.

White Balloon Day is September 7th, 2010.  Go to the White Balloon Day website to see how you can get involved. It could be as simple as purchasing an official White Balloon Day Balloon to fly at work, wearing white that day, or attending on of the special dinners that are being organized. I’m going to be sitting at one of those dinner tables, so maybe we’ll get to meet in person. I like meeting new people!

So check back here to see more information about White Balloon Day and Bravehearts as I get more involved.

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Stupid Weatherman

I’d like to be a weatherman. Seriously, what other job can you be wrong at least 50% of the time and not get fired?

The morning, Matt asked me to help him take the hard top off his jeep. We had discussed it the night before and I told him to check the weather, because I thought it was going to rain. We looked, no rain in sight on the forecast. Watched the local news. No rain.

So this morning, we pull the roof off, which was much heavier than I expected. While trying not to damage my fingers while laying down on the floor, I pulled them out quickly and instead dropped it on my big toe. The toe which was already blistered from wearing pretty shoes yesterday. So, I now also have a purple bruise under my nail. Anywho, Matt drives off all content with his topless jeep.

zoom zoom

I do a quick workout, get dressed, eat breakfast, yadda, yadda, yadda, and head out the the miata, which has the roof down. I look at the sky, think, it looks like rain. In San Antonio however, it’s common to look like rain, but it burns off. Just in case though, I pull out the trusty iPhone, check the weather again. Still no rain forecast. So I hop in, drive to work. Halfway there, my windscreen gets spotty. Hmmm, could that be rain, or just the guy in front of me cleaning his windshield and I’m getting residual water spots? Then, more spots. Even more spots. Damnit, it’s raining! Which, is fine on the highway, cause I’m going fast enough to not really get wet. Until I pull off the highway and sit at the lights…. Thankfully, it was just a light rain, and I won’t melt.

So I pull into the office, try to get the stupid roof up, which always sticks when it’s raining…Of course, now as I sit at my desk, looking out the window, it’s stopped raining again.

But really, how hard is it to tell me it’s raining on the other side of town? San Antonio is not that big. Next time, I’ll stick to my own judgment, and ignore the weather guy.

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Lindsay Lohan

Many people wonder what’s wrong with Lindsay Lohan?

This week, she has been declared as “unbankable” and fired from her next production. She looks like a train wreck. She looks like she’s going to end up like so many other former child stars, and we’ll get a headline saying she has overdosed on crack.

I feel sorry for Lindsay. She was cute as a button when she started out. She was a pretty good actress and apparently fairly decent to work with. Her mother on the other hand, is a total wanna be celebrity and bad stage mother. Remember a few years ago, when you would see pics of Lindsay out clubbing with her mother, while she was still underage? What kind of mother uses her kid to go clubbing? What kind of clubs let an underage Lohan in?

Now that Lindsay is looking all washed up, Dina has moved on to the kid sister. Lindsay is left out in the cold. Nobody is there to take care of her, especially now that she’s not a cash cow anymore.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be Lindsay right now. Everywhere she goes, there’s people just waiting for her to goof up, so they can splash it all over the internet and celebrity news shows. No matter what she does, it’ll be spun to make her look like a loser. People have no idea what it’s like to be constantly watched and ridiculed. To never be able to just try something and fail, like a normal human. If she gains 5lbs, there will be people talking about her getting fat. Lose the 5lbs, the media will be screaming of an eating disorder. Go out and have fun with your friends, a pap takes a bad pic of you, and you’re branded as being a drunk. She’s really in a no win situation right now.

People should lay off Lindsay. She’s had a crappy upbringing. She tries to keep working, but people just keep knocking her down, which just makes her spiral even further down the depression ladder.

I wish everyone could spend a week being hunted by the media, having people write awful things about you on the internet and being scrutinized by everyone who has access to the media before they ever judge another celebrity again. It’s not all red carpets and exclusive parties. Being famous can make you infamous. It can make you paranoid and crazy.

Next time, instead of judging Lindsay, give her a hug. She probably needs one.

I know I’m probably biased about Lindsay, since I can empathize with growing up in the media, even if I was nowhere near as famous as she is. It might also be because everytime I look at her I am reminded of a young Simone Buchanan back in her Secret Valley days. I used to love that show!

Maybe Lindsay just needs to come and spend some time in Texas, away from all the prying Hollywood eyes. Take a year off and just regroup. Nobody down here cares who you are. That’s why so many celebs keep second houses in San Antonio and Austin. They can be normal humans without ending up on TMZ…

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Listening to the Universe around you

Sometimes the universe will send you messages when you need them most.

The last few weeks have been a real struggle for me, and last night I went in for a massage that Matt got me for my birthday. I’m not a very outwardly emotional person. I push it all down deep inside. Which isn’t very good for your health. I was in all kinds of knots, and even after two hours, we didn’t break them all up.  I went home, Matt made me a bubble bath, and all the emotions I had been bottling up came to the surface.

This morning, I used my free drink gift card that Starbucks sent me for my B’day, (Thank You Starbucks!) and got myself a Venti Chai Latte, and then headed across the street to Serendipity. It’s like an outlet for costume jewellery. My Mother in Law gave me a Benjamin for my B’day, so I thought I’d treat myself to something pretty. I got a few really nice pieces, then came in to work. My boss was highly impressed with my bounty, and immediately called his wife to let her know where to go shopping.
Then, like the fortune cookie that seems to make so much sense, I opened up my email to find two very similar themed emails, telling me that everything was going to be OK.
The first one, was from What’s Your Dosha, an Ayurvedic site.

Ayurvedic Psychology

Mental health care is an important aspect of Ayurveda. Everything is connected, mind-body-spirit, so one aspect affects all the others. Ayurveda recommends certain techniques to keep mentally fit so that we can function optimally. Remember that we have the freedom to choose our mental states, so we can practice keeping our minds in good shape.
-Meditation. Meditate regularly. Every day, twice a day, for 20-30 minutes each time.
-Cultivate a constructive mental attitude. Develop optimism, cheerfulness, and the habit of possibility-thinking. Remember that challenges are temporary, so don’t let them get you down.
-Use your powers of intelligence. Pay attention to your intuition, and look for synchronistic events; there are no coincidences. Choose your words with the best of intention, and speak constructively. Act with purpose to support ordered thinking.
-Keep memories in perspective. There is a difference between the information that we garner from memories and the emotions that are attached to those memories. We can access our memories without having to be influenced by feelings of anger, sadness, guilt, or regret. We can allow memories of success to remind us of the goodness of life. We can let memories motivate us to make better choices in the present moment. Live in the moment, and not in the memories.
-Witness your emotional and mental states rather than becoming identified with them. Remember that these states come and go, so focus on thinking rationally and being emotionally balanced and mature.
-Live with purpose. Have intention behind your actions, and develop constructive habits. Focus on what is important, and what is real. Live the knowledge that you learn.

The second one came from my Buddhist Meetup Group.

You Can Choose To Be Happy…

What if I told you that you have the ability to decide if you are happy or not.

You would probably say that I’m crazy. 1. I’m not crazy and 2. Happiness is a choice.
You can’t depend on someone else to make you happy. That is a lesson I learned later on in my marriage. I realized that I couldn’t rely on my wife,  my children, my house or my job  as my source of happiness. I learned that my happiness depended on me and not my wife’s or children’s actions. I learned that you have to choose to be happy.
You can choose your emotions. True happiness comes from within; it can’t be forced by outside forces. So how do you choose happiness? The same away you choose to smile or choose to wear a certain outfit. You choose it because that’s what you want to experience in your life.
You want to buy a new pair of shoes so you choose a pair that you like and feels good. You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes that you don’t like or that don’t fit well, right? So why do we keep choosing emotions and feelings that don’t make us feel good?
Well most people don’t realize that you can choose feeling happy over feeling angry or upset about something. It’s not wrong to feel angry or upset but dwelling on it (attachment) and letting the anger simmer for too long can have bad results. Choosing to be happy after you realize your anger has shown up (or even choosing to be calm) can be beneficial. You end up acknowledging your anger and moving on instead of harbouring those emotions until there’s a flare up. We choose our feelings; no one can do that for us. If we let others get to us, influence our emotions – we are giving them power over us. When others cause us anger or pain, we are giving them our power.
What about those who irritate us or make us mad? We have the power of choice but most times we react out of anger. Instead of taking a mental time out and knowing that what that person said is about them we unconsciously choose to react. The reaction is usually out of anger or fear. It’s a re-action, not an action.
How do we stop this behavior? We need to keep our feelings in check and not react automatically to what is thrown at us. We need to think our actions out instead of just reacting to what someone says or does. Reacting is responding to someone else’s actions. What we need to do is act on our own accord and not let the actions of others influence us. By doing that we stay conscious of our own thoughts and feelings and not let what others do to us affect our moods.
Remember that we can always choose happiness. At first it will be difficult to just switch your thoughts and feelings from anger, self-doubt, or fear to joy and happiness.
But it is only a thought away. Don’t dwell on what happens to you unnecessarily but realize what is causing you to feel that way. Realize that thoughts, feelings and emotions can change. Then move on and choose to be happy.
That is why I find these words of Buddha so inspiring: “We are what we think, and all that we are rises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. Speak and act with a pure mind and happiness will follow.” If only we were to remember this, keep it in our hearts, and keep our heart and mind pure, then happiness would really follow. The whole of Buddha’s teaching, then, is directed towards taming this mind, and keeping our heart and mind pure.

Just do like the song… don’t worry, be happy!

I thought it was odd that two very different groups sent me an email about choosing my state of mind. I guess the universe is out there talking to you, you just have to listen to it.

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Springtime in Texas

Texas in Springtime is beautiful. All the wildflowers come out, in reds, blue, yellows and if you’re lucky, fields of rainbows.

The other great thing is this is when all the quirky festivals start. Growing up, you’d see all those movies about small town life in America, with the corn festival, or the local fair or carnival. Around where we live, there are dozens of them.

This weekend was the Poteet Strawberry Festival. South of San Antonio is the “Strawberry Capital of Texas”. Every year on the weekend of my birthday, they have a huge event. There’s all kind of carnival rides, food galore and of course, everything strawberry that you can imagine. I started off with a Strawberry Margarita, had a turkey leg, then chocolate dipped strawberries and a Strawberry Shortcake. Thoroughly stuffed, we walked around all the vendors. People had home made jams, salsas and BBQ sauces. There was everything from parasols, clothing and then I saw something that caught my eye.

While talking to the police in Sydney, they told me that the mascot for their squadron was the scorpion. Reason? The scorpion is the natural enemy of the rock spider. Well, guess what I was wearing home?

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Let THIS be a lesson in professionalism….

I guess as we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, karma can be a bitch. If you don’t do the right thing, it will eventually come back to bite you in the ass.

My best friend, as she was watching all this unfold, asked me, “Which was worse, the abuse, or the fact that so many people knew about it, but didn’t do anything to stop it?”

For the record, I DO NOT blame Simone and Ben for what happened to me on the set. You have to understand, the entertainment industry in Australia back then was incredibly small. There wasn’t a lot of work around. It was very easy to become an outcast and never work again. When I confided in them, they both did what they could at the time. They went to management, they were both told to be quiet. I can also understand why they haven’t brought it to the attention of the police in the years since. They waited till I was ready to deal with it. When I was, there were there to back me up. I find it offensive that people are suggesting that they only came forward once somebody waved a cheque at them. Yes, they were offered a lot of money by some other networks to tell their story. They didn’t accept it. This was NOT a money making exercise for any of us. This was about releasing a demon that we were all carrying for so many years.

I have always loved Simone and Ben dearly. They were there for me when I needed them back then and they are here for me when I need them now. I know both of them have been carrying this with them for many years. Please do not judge them. It’s all very easy for people not involved to say what they would have done in the same situation, but until you really are in that situation, you can’t know how you would react. I know what went on back then, and I’ve seen how it’s affected their lives since. I would ask that if I still love them and hold no bad feelings, that other people would respect that. You can’t blame them.

On that note, to a lesser extent, I can even understand why Gary tried to keep it quiet. Hate the show all you want now, but at the time, we were the highest rating show on Television. It was Gary’s baby. It was his show. It was his responsibility to keep the show running. I’d like to think that I would have handled the situation differently, had two different cast members come to me telling me what was happening. But, I wasn’t in that situation, so I can’t know for sure.

Let THIS be a lesson in professionalism. If somebody comes to you, telling you that something is not right, don’t try to cover it up. When it does all come to light, however many years later, you don’t want to look like a fuckwit. There’s more to life than money.

Oh, and it’s nobody’s business how much we made, but here’s the Women’s Day letter to Media Watch about how much we got paid. We didn’t make enough to buy new houses, or even a car. They simply covered the time we had to take out of our days to tell our story. I didn’t fly first class on my 30+ hr trip back to Oz. Not even premium economy. I sat with the screaming kids back in row 70. My husband had to take time off work so he could join me, as this was something hard for me to do alone. They didn’t pay him for his time either. It’s in the police report how much I made, and it will all be evidence if we ever go to court.

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Emails and Posts

Sorry if you’ve sent me an email or message in the last couple of weeks. I didn’t have internet while I was in Oz. I’m just going through all the emails now. There’s a LOT of them, so please be patient…

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Finally back home

For those of you wondering if I ever made an official police statement, Yes, I did. There is still a media blackout, so the police will not talk about it till all the statements have been taken.

For the people who have posted on forums why I didn’t just call the police or send am email, I’m guessing you’ve never actually given a police statement.

The detectives I was with were wonderful people. It wasn’t nearly as brutal as I thought it was going to be, however, it was still over 35 hrs spent giving my testimony to the police. Not exactly something that could me done over skype…  The police are also aware of any money that I may have received for my story. If only it were really as much as people are speculating! Try removing a couple of zero’s and you’d be closer to it…

My original article in Woman’s Day was supposed to be a general warning to the public. We never anticipated that people were going to demand a name and shame, only to later decide they only really wanted him named if it wasn’t someone famous…. Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.

ACA only named him after there was sufficient evidence, and as a way to clear the names of the innocent. Trust me, lots of lawyers were involved. We all had to sign Stat Decs before we went to air.  It wasn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Especially given that several people are still working actors. Going against the flow could cost them dearly.

I don’t really care what people think of me. They can hate on me all they like. I know that I have given courage to several women to talk about their cases of sexual abuse. Not necessarily by the same man, but by victims in general. A quick search on the internet reveals thousands of people talking about the case. Whether they think I did the right thing or not, people are talking about it. People are discussing it. People are letting the skeletonss come out of the closet.  That was what I wanted. I wanted this to become something people could talk about. It shouldn’t be a dirty little secret that people are ashamed to talk about. People need to stand up and be heard.

So think of me what you will. I am still glad I told my story. I’m glad I got people to talk about sexual abuse.

For anyone still scared of going to the police, I encourage you to do so. While yes, you do have to go into every little detail, think of it as therapy. They’re there to help you.

Thank you to the Detectives of Strike Force Ruskin who took my statement.

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Thanks for the support

I’d like to say thank you to the people who sent me messages of support over the last couple of days. It was a hard decision for me to allow the story to run. It’s uncomfortable for me to dredge up the past and re-live it. Some of the personal emails I’ve received have been very touching and very appreciated.

For those of you who feel that I wasn’t “abused enough” to complain or that I’m an attention seeking whore, I truly hope nothing bad ever happens to you in life, or if it does, people don’t feel the need to email you hateful things or tweet about what an idiot you are. Hopefully someone will show you love and compassion. One of the reasons I didn’t want to do the story was a fear of people thinking I was only doing it for the publicity. I was prepared for it, but it still hurts when people send you hateful emails.

My only goal is to educate people that working as a child in the entertainment industry is not as glamorous as people think it is. It’s work, just like any other industry. (Although Child Labour laws don’t allow children to work in most other industries) I’d like to create more support for child actors, a safer environment for them to work in, and a way for them to make a smooth transition to adulthood.

So I’m sorry to those of you out there who are offended by my coming forward too many years later, or for being a whiny sook, or for actually still conducting a life and owning a business that you chose to Google and think I’m trying to get publicity for.

To those of you who have sent messages of support, THANK YOU. I appreciate you.

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