This is where thoughts become things.

Hi, I'm Daniela. Welcome to my personal lair on the Internet. This is where I write about storytelling, activism, technology and pop culture. Sometimes I post videos. I update my lair when the mood strikes me. Follow me on Twitter for daily updates (@dcap).

Turning 30: Art, Activism, Parenting and more Personal Fulfillment

Happy Monday! I’ve decided that in two weeks (9/1) I am going to start posting a video a day, counting down to my 30th birthday (9/29). The purpose is to document my last thoughts in my 20s and to figure out exactly what I want for my life going into my 30s.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how this experiment could have helped me as I entered my 20s. I certainly had a lot of idealism and goals when I was 19. At 20 is when I really started to politicize myself and define what was important to me. Some of those priorities have changed but many continue to be my focus for activism, such as gender equality, reproductive rights, immigration rights, and youth empowerment.

At 20 is when I really started to organize events in my hometown of Sacramento, CA. I co-founded an artists collective and put on film and music shows with my friends. See if you can spot author Inga Muscio in the video below. It was amazing that she came out and supported our event.

I spent weekends (usually alone — it’s hard to get your young friends up early on a Saturday) supporting women by standing in front of the abortion protesters/hate mongers at a nearby clinic, holding my own sign of support and being like a physical block between the women coming to the clinic and the ignorant people screaming at them (read about one of my last experiences in front of that location here). I did that up until I relocated to NYC in 2004 to pursue my film & media goals.

Looking back at my activism between 18 – 23 makes me really proud. I want to do more of that kind of action in my 30s, but in a much more strategic and collaborative manner. It’s not that I stopped being an activist or radical when I moved to NYC, I just went about it in a different way. I became a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters and donated my time to media literacy organizations, speaking to young girls about cyberwellness and other important topics. However, I wish I had spent more time documenting what I was doing leading up to and through my early 20s, because I’m certain those videos would have been a source of strength for me during my uncertain and fearful times after moving to NYC. I could have reminded myself of what I was truly capable of.

The culture shock of moving across the country practically made me forget almost everything about myself that I was proud of. It took years to get that sense of self back.

The Future
My hopes and dreams for my 30s are to make more art, to be more of an ACTIVE activist (street/community-level steps), to be the best foster-to-adopt parent I can be next spring, and to enjoy more out of life. While I think about these goals, I’m also trying to remember the events, people, and media that inspired me to think more about my world and how to enact positive change.

Here are some of those inspirational sources that came into my life when I was 19-23, as they come to mind:

1. My first feminist POC friend: Claudia
Regardless of how our friendship has transformed over time, I will always be profoundly grateful for her influence in my life. I met Claudia right before I turned 19. She introduced me to zines by people of color. Claudia introduced me to Bikini Kill, Kathleen Hannah’s project Julie Ruin, to local activists and allies, and was my first friend to ever call me an artist. We co-founded a female artists collective together and over the years she has always encouraged me to think about the consequences of my actions while working as a media professional. Claudia will always be in my heart.

2. My first friend to discuss white privilege with me: Jessicah Pratt
As a person of color (I’m Chicana), I never really thought about my own white privilege until I met Jessicah Pratt. In a loving and informative way, she helped me to understand my role in the world as a person of color with white privilege. Rather than see it as something to feel guilty about (which I did initially), she encouraged me to use it as weapon for positive change. She influenced me in other ways as well, but this was the gift she brought into my life that I am most grateful for. THANK YOU! <3 3. LiveJournal & Diaryland
Before Facebook and Google+, there were very social communities that helped me to transform my life. Publicly journaling on LiveJournal and Diaryland from 19-23 transformed my life in ways I never imagined when I first opened accounts on these sites. I met my NY BFF through LiveJournal, who has been my IRL BFF now for 9 years. LiveJournal was where I first started researching the possibility of moving to NYC.

I found groups that gave info about NY job resources, art events, and even housing. I also read the stories of those who had also relocated from far off places, and it gave me courage to do it myself. A few years ago I deleted both of my accounts on those sites and regret doing so, because there were some hilarious posts on there. But I think I just wanted a clean slate… I am, however, 100% certain that I would not be where I am today without communities like LiveJournal.

4. Effie Kolbeins
I met Effie while working at CAEYC, a non-profit in Sacramento, CA. She was a very dynamic and powerful person. Despite our age difference (I started there at 19), she treated me like an equal and cared enough to ask me about my long-term goals. She is the person who sent me information about the Women in Film networking event that used to happened annually in Beverly Hills, CA. Because of her, I flew to Los Angeles by myself to attend this event at 19 and had a very cathartic moment in my hotel room. I promised myself I would do everything I could to achieve my dreams.

Back in Sacramento, Effie encouraged me almost like a daughter to pursue my film goals and allowed me to hang out with her young son, who was a film buff and made his own movies on his computer (very unique to me, at the time). People like Effie are the reason I try to help others as much as I can, because I know how much her help affected my life.

5. Craigslist
Hah! Oh man. This rabbit hole has brought me a lot of joy and problems over the years. I found my first New York apartment here, as well as my first film internship. I met friends AND lovers on Craigslist, and bought and sold film making equipment. If it wasn’t for Craigslist, I don’t think I would have had the courage to actually get on the plane to New York. I think that being able to see activity (even in just digital/visual form) happening in New York on a daily basis made me more comfortable with the idea of relocating. Thanks, Craig!

There have been many more people, events, and resources that influenced me during 19-23, but those are the 5 that I’m going to think about today. Between now and 9/1, when I start my daily 30th bday countdown, I want to highlight those influences on The Lair as a digital toast to those who inspired me.

It also goes without saying that none of this would have been possible without love and support from my mother Carolina Rose, my stepdad Larry Rose, and my father Henry V. Capistrano. These three people have had the most influence (direct and indirect) in my life and I’m happy that I am now mature enough to appreciate it 😉

Mom and Me

Hilton Pose


  • Carolina Rose

    Sighhh… I am turning 60 tomorrow and reflecting on how much I love you, my daughter, Daniela Elena Capistrano, and the days leading up to your birth. It was a super hot summer pregnancy in Sacramento, California in 1981.  Everthing was swollen, not just my belly.  (Even the birds and strangers on the street looked moist, miserble and puffy.) We “talked” regularly. I called you My Baby Bee. We experienced a mutually aware Connection all the time.  I felt your Being-ness and “knew” your moods.  (Hey! None of that has changed over the years!) I worked as Chief of Staff to State Senator Nicholas C. Petris right up to the day before you were born.  (You come by your workaholic-aty honestly.)  I had you at Kaiser.  You wanted to be born butt first. (The original Backwards Girl.) But they told me a Jack Knife exit might damage your spine, so I said “cut me open!”  Daniela, when they laid you in my arms on September 29, 1981, I was born again. Rebooted.  You gave me a life purpose.  It was because of you that I became determined to deal with the haunting issues from my own childhood so that I could give you what my parents were unable to give me — mainly the grounding that comes from knowing that at least one adult on the planet is crazy about you.  You just know that person  would surely die for you if it came down to it, and would do whatever it took to be there for you always. Your greatest fan.  Our life journey together hasn’t always been easy or comfortable. But I’m pretty sure that you have always known at some level that I am crazy about you… besides just being a little bit crazy :-).  Happy-Almost -Your -30th -Birthday, Love always, Your Greatest Fan, Mam00000

  • Ruben

    Hi I’m about to change my WP theme hwoever the preview of the new theme looks messy, with lots of conflicting menu headings and a range of aesthetic issues. Therefore I’d like to start the new theme clean’ to do this I am going to use the import/export mechanism you demonstrated above to make sure I do not pull in any unwanted content/formatting to my new theme. However, after I have exported data, I am assuming i’d have to delete all of the content so that it is not automatically imported into my new theme when it is activated. Let me know if this method is correct or if there are other techniques to do the same.Many thanks for your thoughts and for generating this great content.Andrew

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