“…Maybe translated as a role…even though the role had been filled, It was hard to understand the complexity of saying, ‘the role has been filled for this long, yeah? here is the flesh and blood. Where do you fit in?’ …the mystery of her existence…was filled.”


“Van Gogh”

Fiction. Based on a True Self-Portrait Beginning to Re-Associate its Pieces.

by Mingjie Zhai

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character, or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.



You remember the dream the night before. Usually, you would forget by noon, but this evening you recall the dream last night. You were sitting in front of a cosmopolitan woman—a smart and sexy woman, a psychiatrist, a psychic, a mother and a business type of woman. You admire her. You feel comfortable around her because you know she can help you or hurt you so the instinct is to be at ease as equals as not to have her smell any weakness lest she swallows you and also not to threaten her lest she runs away. 

She is Kali, the goddess, the shapeshifter, showing up as this mother, sister, protector figure for you. 

The two of you are sitting by a lagoon and you remember looking past her shoulders and seeing the green and yellow waters so translucent that if you were to jump into it, you would either be restored or reconstructed. You ask her about Rylie. 

She says, “You mean my partner?” 


You’re in disbelief. 

“Your partner? That can’t be. There must be a mistake.”

You think a woman this sophisticated wouldn’t be interested in a man like Rylie. It’ll be beneath her status. But then, she shows you a small pocket-sized photo of him in her necklace watch. He looks happy. 

This woman is highly sophisticated—a woman only James Bond would fuck with—a highly intelligent, beautiful, and wickedly calculating woman, but with a sense of calm. 

When you wake up, you realize that woman is a good mother who is training on how to grow up and embody her. 


The Chinese Dinner

You invited your new Italian friends over to a Chinese dinner you found, close to Drinker’s Den in the basement of Paul Within the Walls. Two men and one woman, two of whom speak French, Italian, and English, one who speaks Italian and English and Serbian, and you who speak English and broken Chinese. You notice the Serbian man had a book with the title, “Stupid People Are Dangerous.” 

You smile and agree. 

You share that you left LA for a bit because you knew that your character had not caught up with the doors that were opening for you. You knew that should you have obtained success sooner than God intended for you, that you would have caved, compromised, somewhere sold out on something and you would have lost your prize. All because you would have been easily distracted by the new shiny thing that says, “Look at this!” and then you would take your eyes off that one goal that Jesus has sent you, a sheep among wolves, to obtain. 

You were at the center of the stronghold, among witches, wizards, and Wiccans, oh my! And it was all beautiful, all rich, all colorful, and all consuming. You would have been consumed by the lust because the devil knows what your weakness is and will present two hot men who will say to you, “We will pleasure you beyond your wildest imagination. Come, we will take care of you.” And then you will be reduced to a lust daemon, which is what the enemy intends you to become.

But you don’t say that to any of your new friends in Rome. 

Instead, you tell them of the time you were at Sundance. When you flaked on meeting your own advisor and missing his own premiere. You did not tell them that you were trying to connect Ondi with Kevin yet you dismissed your own needs, and you wanted to interview both of them…but something was off. You were off. You did not feel yourself worthy. 

Perhaps respecting rules and other people’s boundaries when appropriate is also a sign of self-respect. When you respect yourself and your own rules, you can begin to appreciate other people’s processes in their level of comfort. 

Hollywood is being turned upside down right now, shifting the consciousness of the newest download from all sorts of sources. Namely—create your own reality or reality is already created. What’s the point? Some may say, “There is no point!” and others are saying, “There is a point.” It took a long time for you to figure out the answer, and there is a right answer to the test. But you were not fully prepared to fight the raging war at hand. 

“You are on a Journey,” the Producer said when he recognized the spirit that marked you. He is a faithful man, a Muslim man, a family, a good soul. And he recognized your need to leave Los Angeles. He recently contacted you to tell you that he is ready to pair the diary he is producing. You smile and you are happy to be of service. 



That evening, the speaker shared her truth on how she had no real self-respect. It’s true, you later shared afterward. You told the group that you used drugs and alcohol to give you the illusion of self-respect by wearing the persona of “better than,” a level of “I don’t give a fuck,” but when sobered the following morning, you would know you’re a fraud. You said that self-respect comes from witnessing yourself becoming true to your higher self. 

“How many times have I drawn a line and told myself, ‘I would never do this…’ and then I did it. I would set a goal and ignore it, I would tell myself I would not fall for something, and then I’d fall for it. I saw myself sabotage efforts to get better, be better, and be surrounded by better.” And that’s how I had low self-esteem.

It didn’t come out of thin air—it was earned—just like having self-respect comes from earning, seeing myself tell myself, “Today, I am going to be sober by trusting in the first two steps— “I am powerless…” and “I came to believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity”… and there it is, “came to believe”—and bit by bit, step by step, I started regaining self-respect because I saw myself telling myself I won’t do something. And sure enough, I didn’t do it for that day.” 

You also did something you are very proud of yourself for doing. You had enough self-respect to let Aaron go to let him grow. And in that space, you finally see the silver lining of what Sonny did for himself and for you. 

Then, you saw yourself staying sober. 

Then, you saw yourself saying no to attractive prospects. 

Thank you, Jesus, for binding the lust daemon stronghold. 

Thank you!



La Cenerentola

You are at the Italian Opera and it is the Italian version of Cinderella, which quite frankly, may be the actual version, stripped of all magic. This version is the mother who is widowed and leaves behind a stepfather who will not recognize his stepdaughter as his own. He trashed her to the cinders, fated to serve two entitled and spoiled sisters. The father and his two daughters have stripped Cinderella of her inheritance—including her position, her good name, and her endowment. 

The prince has to get married soon but disguises himself as the servant to the servant who plays the prince in front of the prospecting father and two daughters. 

In the very beginning of Act I, a beggar shows up at their door that the two other sisters shoo away. It is Cinderella who feeds the beggar, and when the family is invited to the ball, the father chains Cinderella up, only later to be freed by the beggar, who is actually the man who keeps all records of truth—he comes forth shiny, in blue feathers…this man addresses Cinderella as “daughter,” and who brings Cinderella (and the audience for that matter) to the awareness that there is a Heavenly God who sees all, knows all, and will see through her story as a Love Story till the very end. He tells her that her tragedy will turn as sudden and as quick as the winds turn. 

Your nose is stuffy…more like watery. You don’t know whether to blow from your nose or just let the mucus drip down your throat. Whatever the case may be, you are praying to Jesus to get you through this play without upsetting the people sitting next to you. 

You are at the nosebleed seats while your nose is bleeding out snot. 


The Prince has a double who is the Prince’s most trusted servant acting as the Prince in front of the spoiled sisters and the ambitious two-faced father. The trusted servant is spot on in sharing his assessment on the character of the three: The sisters are superficial, insolent, and vain. The father is avaricious. 

Somewhere in that space, you realize that these are the strongholds in your own sphere, the stumbling blocks. One sister represents condemnation, the other represents vanity, and the father represents the old man spirit—the cynic, the doubter, the saboteur. The three together represent your lower three chakras in the Alchemized Shadow form. 

So who is Cinderella to you? 

She is the heart chakra. Green. 

Yet, the theme is all blue—the Prince, the Prince’s Servant, and the Record Keeper who disguised as the beggar—all blue. 

This blue then transitions into Royal blue. 

Royal Blue is the Third Eye. 

You believe after you write The Producer’s Playbook, it is time for you to begin arching your protagonists’ character leveraging 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. 

At the Ball, Cinderella arrives in black, with a black veil covering her. 

Her status and position are returned to her in that mystery that veils her. 

Even the servant playing the Prince begins falling for her. 

Yet, it has always been the Prince playing the servant that has fallen for Cinderella since Act One, when they were both in disguise as poor servants, face to face, when the chemistry begins. 

Cinderella tells the servant disguised as the Prince that she came not for him, but for his servant. 

“The heart wants what it wants,” you hear both Selena Gomez, someone whom you cried with on Easter Sunday and you hear it from Maple, your confidant and friend since high school. 

The heart wants what it wants. 

You think of Rylie. 


Again, the orange sash, the orange cat, the way he says, “Twittar,” and my “woe-man” in his Scottish mixed American accent. 

Cinderella leaves an ankle bracelet to the Servant at the Ball before she disappears back to her “slave” status at home, among the critical strongholds of the evil father and his two evil daughters. One stormy night, the Prince’s carriage breaks, and he finds himself at the home of the sisters he had passed. There, he finds Cinderella and finally sees her for who she really is…the diamond in the rough. There, he chooses her, despite her status, her rags, her cinders. 

“The more you unravel, the more you will interweave …” They all sing. 


The More you unravel, the More You Interweave

The man with the blue feather shows up. 

In the next and final scene, they are at the Prince’s Royal Castle, and the Prince brings the terrible sisters and the terrible father before the court for judgment. The Prince asks his beloved wife, Cinderella, what to do with them. 

There is a pause of anticipation. 

She finally sings in falsetto, “Forgive!” 



You get an email notification from one of the journal-artist applicants towards the finale. 

“I did not receive a zoom link.” 

You send a zoom link whilst the play is in its final act. 

You rush out of the theatre before the encore. Exiting and bypassing the exit of the crowd later, and you find yourself at a posh cafe close by with free wifi. You send her the zoom link and greet her, apologetically, that you are in a crowded area. 

She tells you that she has been following your story, that she has been waiting for a community like this one, that she, like you, also deal with the same “ism.” 

You feel a bit like a celebrity, but you have to remind yourself not to let it get to your head as you’ve seen yourself do when you were once teaching the kids of celebrities or when you would be schmoozing with celebrities. You realize that you left LA so you can deal with multiple strongholds—codependency, addictions, and a way to stand on your own self-respect. 

Rylie was right. 

Sharp apple he is. 

You were sick, you needed help, and you needed to earn your self-respect back. 

Self-respect can only be earned through a genuine psychic shift in seeing the things you want to manifest and seeing the things you don’t want passed up. 

Closing doors means opening doors to others.

It’s okay to say no without the shame and guilt. 



The Italian Model 

He looks at you with those beautiful green and brown eyes. He is exactly your type. It’s like you dreamed him up. High flush cheeks, rich dark brown eyes, and his hair partially ponytailed with the lower half on a buzz cut. The two of you keep looking at each other. The attraction was obvious. He finally works up the courage to approach you. It takes a lot of courage, and you secretly give him kudos for that. Liquor is in his system. His flushed cheeks and droopy eyes give it away.

He tells you he is a photographer and he is also a model for high society artists who patrons him to pose naked so they can draw him. He’s traveling to London soon. He’s on a journey. But the moment he speaks up, you notice he has a feminine stronghold that binds his existence. Something you are quite familiar with. You think of Milo and his talk on sexploitation and the pieces all fall together. You sense his thirst. You know you are a mystery and perhaps his thirst hopes that you will rescue him. He notices your American accent. You’re from California, you tell him. You two exchange social media accounts. He tells you he wants to see you but the minute you agree, you felt a presence of anxiety. No, your intuition tells you. You are off. Remember your agreement? The Four Agreements? Be impeccable with your word. 

A few days later, what you suspect has come true. He is forward. You appreciate it very much. He texts you that he wants to find a room and get intimate with you. Without saying such things, you can read between the lines. He wants you to show up as a fly by night girl, a quick fix, a temporary solution to something you can not truly help him solve. He wants sex. 

Hit it and quit it. 

You decline. You tell him you are on a spiritual pilgrimage. You tell him you just want to be friends. You decline. 

He stops responding. 

You are relieved. 

That evening, a gay artist from New York shares about his 29 years of sobriety. His life partner sits across from him. You share how you hope that one day you will find your life partner across the room witnessing and listening to your share. You think of Rylie. They are now married and you sit between them, hopeful. When it was time to be in the circle of hope, the man to your left and his partner, the speaker, holding your right hand and you in the middle pray the serenity prayer together. 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change. 

To change the things I can. 

And the wisdom to know the difference.

You smile in hope. 










Matt Sorum. 

Guns and Roses. 







Van Gogh

He keeps looking at you. You can see the soul behind his frown. It is of knowing the gap between what could be, what should be, and what is. 

You smile. 

Mulberry Trees. 


Crazy girl—with foolish, fierce, crazy faith.  

And Hope. 

And Love.




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