1-25

November 18 Questions with Megan Cavallari

1.What is your name?

My name is Megan Cavallari.

2.What is your occupation?

Composer, musician, and producer, starter of The Talk Foundation.

3.Do you have a “green” memory growing up?

My green memory has been with me my entire life. My parents were environmentalist long before it was hip. We would camp all summer because they were teachers. We hiked. We learned about flowers, vegetation, the ozone layer, animals, pollution, forests and how to help the earth.

4.We heard you were a vegetarian. That’s awesome! What’s your favorite meal?

My favorite “go to” recipe:
garbanzo beens
veganese
boiled potatoes
fresh organic dill
organic garlic powder
organic dried cranberries
salt
pepper
organic celery
organic raw pecans
squeeze or organic lemon
place in blender
organic arugula
whole wheat vegan bread or pita
It can be breakfast, lunch or dinner or all if you are busy composing a film score and have no time to make a meal.

5.How long have you been a vegetarian?

I am a vegan.
My 12 year old daughter is a vegetarian. By choice. We had 2 Mallard ducks. The female laid her eggs in our back yard and our pool was taken over for a year by the duck family. The chicks grew up and finally flew away. Shoshie could not eat an egg after walking past the duck eggs and seeing them hatch. They were wild but had great personalities.

6.Where on the “green scale” do you fall?

On the “green” scale I am an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10 (“Spinal Tap” being my favorite Christopher Guest Film)

7.Where do you turn for your news?

I get my news from the NPR, LA Times, Huffington Post, New York Times, Twitter, Dramatist Guild Monthly, Hockey News Magazine, LA Kings Web Site, Vegan Bloggers, Film Score Monthly and “The Who” Fan Club news letter to see what opera Pete is writing.

8.What is one environmental change you vow to make in the next year?

I want to make people aware that the dwindling bee population is a serious issue next year. I want to see Sea World and all the places where animals are “entertainment” be thing of the past. Animals belong  in nature. They were put there for a reason. I would like to see the “sport” of wild game hunting become illegal. What “sport” do you play where the other “team” is slaughtered for fun and mounted a wall?

9.What’s your favorite book?

I love the writings of Meher Baba. “Love is a gift God gave to man.” I read a lot of mysteries and biographies. I really enjoyed Moby’s new book “Porcelain” because I was a starving artist loving New York at the same too. He captured all of the streets, people, craziness, and music. It really took me back to a time and place I called home. If I like an author, I read everything they have ever written. I like to see their development. If I love a composer I listen to all of their music….

10.How did The Talk Foundation Project get started?

The Talk Foundation began partly because my daughter Shoshie was in chemo wards due to her juvenile arthritis and I noticed the children were being spoken to (by adults) but not really talking. The second half was I was in a lunch group where many people had foundations and we helped each other out. I felt that children and teenagers, who were fighting serious diseases, needed a voice and needed to be heard. I met children in the chemo ward who agreed to talk to me so I began recording them and giving them CDs. I made my mac computer into a recording studio and gave them a microphone and mixed the session. They really loved it. They told their friends about me-who told their friends about me and 12 years later I am still recording. Dr. Juliet Warner, who works with this population daily, and sits on my board, continues to be a huge support.

11.What are some of the biggest benefits you’ve found with The Talk Foundation Project?

I have learned so much from these wise souls. I like to end the recordings with the question “what would you tell your best friend if they had your disease or illness?” This is where they shine because these patients have been though more in their short lifetimes than most adults will ever go through. They have experienced so much. They are wise beyond years. More courageous than any of their peers. They are fighters who know that every day on this planet is a gift. They have come face to face with everyone’s greatest fear and looked it in the eyes and most have miraculously survived. I can not think of a more inspirational conversation. Can you?

12.What are some of the biggest struggles you’ve face with The Talk Foundation Project?

I still struggle when a teenage girl cries about losing her hair. It gets to me because being a teenager is hard enough and your looks are so important at that age. They cry about losing their dignity or how they “used to be pretty”-and they are only 14 years old. Many of the children and teenagers speak about how their old friends don’t talk to them and treat them differently. Many, of their old friends, don’t even want to be their friends anymore and it is isolating. People don’t know what to say. They feel awkward. But it is the same person -in fact they need more love now than ever and other children and teenagers don’t invite them out or talk to them much. Maybe they are in a wheelchair now but they are still whole.

13.Can you talk a little bit about your experience raising a daughter who has juvenile arthritis?

Raising a child with a chronic disease is just what you have been given. Life with an auto immune disease is difficult for Shoshie who was diagnosed at 2 and is 12.  When she says she is tired she is “exhausted” and will sleep for hours and hours. She is in pain 24 hours a day. She goes to bed in pain she wakes up in pain. She takes medicines everyday and 2 shots on the weekends. She sees she doctors quarterly and when she has “flair ups” which happen a lot. She also has a disease in her eyes called uveitis.  She can not get live vaccines. She can not get viruses because they reek havoc on her immune system. Somedays she goes to school in a wheelchair.  I am an Athritis Ambassador, which is a group of individuals who seek money for a cure for the 46 million people who suffer from athritis. Shoshie is a fighter. I am proud of her. She has raised a lot of money for many causes she believes in. Her anime art is beautiful and has sold despite her pain.

14.Does food play a role in you and your daughter’s life as a healing mechanism?

Shoshie eats whatever she wants to eat. I make sure she has enough protein. She is not on a special diet for her disease. I have tried. She is very strong willed.

15.What’s one tip you can give to readers out there whose children are also suffering from life threatening health situations?

For any parents whose child or teenager is ill it is heartbreaking. When I go to the second floor of UCLA’s pediatric unit, I see parents with “the saddest eyes”. There is nothing you can love more than your child.  I believe, but I am not an expert, that children and perhaps teenagers, are looking at you for responses and to show them how to lead. They have to be focused on getting well. That is hard enough. They can not be worried about you and your emotions. You are their rock. You are the new expert on their disease. You must learn everything about that disease, You must come in to that hospital armed with a list of questions for your doctors and write down the answers.

If you are too upset-have your friend be in charge of writing the answers down. People always ask “Is there anything I can do?” Well there is- can you drive me and my child/teenager to the hospital? Can you write down the doctor’s responses? Can you meditate with me on Wednesday morning from 10 to 10:30? Can you pick me up for coffee on Tuesday at 6?  Can you shop for me on Sunday? Can you wash my car on Thursday? Can you get books out of the library about childhood leukemia and be in charge of bringing them back? Can you drive us to church on Sunday? Can you clean my living room? Can you call my Rabbi and ask him/her to come by next week any morning is good? Can you bring dinner by on Wednesday night after we have chemo? Can you take me to Massage Envy so I can get a cheap massage I am so stressed out? Can you take Debby to get a wig-her hair fell out? Friends and family actually want to help. Neighbors too. They feel helpless too and its important to them to support you. Wouldn’t you want to help your friend or neighbor out too?

16.Can individuals get involved to help with The Talk Foundation Project?

Please find me through my web sites either: megancavallari.com and go to “the foundation” or my talkfoundation.org web site and feel free to donate or read more about what the foundation is doing. I also have recordings on there from time to time but not often. If you know anyone in Los Angeles or Orange County who needs our help please send them our way. I am always looking for a hospital to join up with so I do not have to travel as much so people can email me if they know social workers, or doctors at hospitals who can help.

17.What’s next for The Talk Foundation Project?

The Talk Foundation will continue to do its works: “giving children and teenager with chronic and life threatening illnesses the chance to talk and be heard”.
If we can go state wide great. Global-even better.

18.Once one piece of advice you would give to our readers out there who are, or who know someone who is dealing with life threatening health situations like those you’ve spoken with through The Talk Foundation Project?

The last piece of advice I would give is “to alway be brave, be strong and have hope”. That is the #1 thing all of my “rock stars” say.

Shauna Willetts