Susan Layton

Film Producer - ASL Performer - Life Learner

Author: admin (page 1 of 2)

Storyboard Excitement!

My father-in-law was here last weekend.  I played him a song I was planning on filming, and asked him to tell me what he saw.  I know what I saw but some places I was left blank.  He shared a couple of things after but added, “I don’t know how you come up with the concepts for your videos!”

For me, the creative process comes when I hear a song.  I always say, “If I can see it, I can do it!” … Mark always says, “If I can see it, I can shoot it!”  Yup, that’s how it goes.

With the song I asked my father-in-law to visualize, I realized that the block (emotionally, mentally, physically, etc) I was having was for a reason.  I went through the scope of Christmas songs again, searching for the one.  …. And it came!  That feeling is just so different!  When I first heard this new song (will share which one soon), I still had to search for the right storyboard idea.  But it came! It came!  It came!  It’s one of those MOMENTS of AH-HA! And it feels just so awesomely great!!!!

… Now for the approval of Mark and then coordinate the timing and all that!  YAAAAY!!!  *Wish me luck!*

THANK YOU Veterans!


Yes, I love everything that reflects upon the red, white and blue!  Veterans Day is one of those days!  Funny thing, I always wanted to marry someone who was military.  I thought what an honor it would be to have someone who was serving our country day in and day out in my home!  Obviously that didn’t happen.  Instead, I married someone who very  much loves our country but will never have the opportunity to serve in the way our military do.  Although military wasn’t in the plans of our marriage, I count my blessings that we have a great many family and friends who have served (or are still serving) our country.  What a blessing it is to hear their stories and pay gratitude to them for their service!

To those I don’t know, who have served us in any capacity, THANK YOU!

Below are a few links that I have found pretty cool in honor of our Veterans.

The first is close to home.  It shares a little about my father-in-law, Daryle and his service in the military.  This article is written by my sweet sister-in-law, Beth.





This second story is  just awesome, sharing with us a bit about the women who worked tirelessly during World War I and World War II, while the men were serving away from home.   







This last is a YouTube video produced by students at Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf.  It has voice-over.  It’s a real special tribute, a must watch!




Winter is Coming … “Therapy” for me

This year, winter is coming – yeah, I know, it seems to come back every year.  Sigh. Crazy. *chuckle*

My body knows even before I wake up that the weather is different that day.  That’s the worst!  Not even being able to get up out of bed and say, “Good Morning”.   But this year I was/am bound and determined to not let depression take over my life.  Because that’s what it does.  I bought me a new swimsuit (because mine is in storage far behind other stuff)  and a pass to the aquatic center.  It wasn’t that easy though.  If you deal with depression or know someone who does, you know it takes a long time for two “simple” tasks to happen.  You go back and forth debating, rationalizing, making excuses for, reasons why you need it, reasons why you shouldn’t, etc – all valid and real in your minds eye.  But it was after a hard day and I told my husband I can’t do this anymore!  I need to a swimsuit/pass.  He said, “DO IT!”  So I did.  I was dancing in my mind.  Excited for the potential this suit and pass would give me!

The day arrived when my suit arrived in the mail.  I got everything ready for the next days new adventure.

This adventure really comes down to this:  I don’t want to deal with what I dealt with last year or the year before or all the other times I’ve dealt with depression.  I KNOW I feel good or better when I exercise and eat right than when I don’t.  This year I am going to do all I can to fight it.  I’m going to fight for me!

I might still need to go to therapy.  I’m not taking that off my needs list.  But the costs of taking care of me and health potentials this offers me is probably cheaper than therapy and physically great for me.  I’m calling my new adventure “Therapy”.  Because it is therapy – I feel better after I leave, mentally and physically.

Since I’ve been going to the pool, I have been tempted to go and do more land exercise after I swim (run, lift weights, rower machine, etc).  Although that would be healthy for my body, I know me and I would end up feeling that I’m not doing enough.  So I resisted that idea and instead I am swimming (which is not really swimming – our aquatic center has a Lazy River which pushes the water along in a continuous circle (ish) – I run that course, do various arm exercises, leg exercises, core exercises while I go round and round) and I work hard in the pool.  And for now, that is good enough.  I leave and say to myself, “I did it! And I’m proud of what I’ve done!”  The temptation to say I didn’t do enough is there but I’m learning to say, “I did enough! And I’m proud of what I’ve done!”

That’s my new adventure …. called “Therapy”.  I will be updating my adventure as winter rolls along.

This picture is one I took after my first day of “water therapy”.  Right after my “therapy”, I went and got a haircut.  I said, “This is a new start to me.  Welcome winter!”


Sincerely, Susan


If you are in a similar situation (dealing with depression), what are you going to do to keep yourself healthy and perhaps help improve what you are dealing with?   If you don’t deal with depression, what ways can you make your life better with health and nutrition?


“iZombie” – My Version of Alex Boye’s “African Zombie”




 An ASL Music Video With a Moral to the Story.

The first time I heard the song “African Zombie” by Alex Boye’, I knew I wanted to use it in an ASL music video  — with the focus on our now-a-day obsession of electronics and such devices!  But for whatever reason, I could not get it done.Zombie 1 The next year came and I told my family, let’s do it!  And then again, I just couldn’t get it done!  I think my biggest hangup is the daunting task to film it myself, while I’m trying to be in the shot at the same time, and not use a tripod (cuz I prefer movement than still shots for some videos and this video needed movement).  So, this year rolled around and I got on my fix again and said, “Let’s do it!” but timing was yet again difficult.  The evening before Halloween, I thought to myself, “If I don’t do it this year, the same thing will happen next year and the next.  So either I do it now or I don’ t do it at all!”  And when I have a strong vision for a video, I can’t just leave it by the wayside.  I told my family, “Get your makeup on, hair done, change your clothes, we’re doing “African Zombie”!!!”   Actually, Ryan, my hubby, was at the store and I texted him to say, “Oh by the way, we’re filming tonight”.  He’s always a good sport.  😀 Phew!

Although I knew what I wanted as the bones of the story, we still had to figure out some things as the video developed.  Since Ryan wasn’t home yet, we began with a couple of the opening and closing scenes.

Pix12Once Ryan got home, dinner was ready, we ate and filmed at the same time.  I told him to tell some funny jokes so I could get everyone smiling (haha) … so out came the “Knock, Knock” Halloween jokes.  They were pretty funny!  But of course, he found the jokes on the internet using his iPad, and the iPad was on the table – so I had to remind him what this video was about.  Smile.

I do have to put in a little plug, since I kind of brought the subject up. 😀  I am not anti-electronic device or anti-technology.  I do believe there is a purpose in having this awesome technology that we all use today and some enjoyment using it is always nice, too!  Of course, I filmed this using an electronic device and I’m typing this blog post using an electronic device.  My husband’s job is performed solely using electronic devices. Pix14 We really can’t live without electronics and technology these days!  I get that!  I guess what I have seen in the world today, and even in my own life, is that living life becomes more about what we are doing electronically than actually living and being present with the other living beings on this earth.  That’s where my vision in this song came from.  I’ll be honest, if my kids are on any electronic – iPad, computer, or TV for too long, they become little Zombies.  In the ASL world, I would add the comment, “True business!”  That means that I’m not kidding! (I chuckle inside when I call them little Zombies – but I’m sure you can see what I mean by that).  I do have great kids, I must say!  But I do put a timer on electronic anything.  I’ll end my little plug here.  Hope you get what I’m saying and understand the purpose behind my vision – smile!

Back to the making.  Pix7There is a part in the video where I have one of my girls on the floor with a remote control in her hand and other remotes and movies and an empty bag of chips and tons or candy wrappers and other candies laying beside her.  She played that part perfectly! It makes me smile each time I watch it.  But what I didn’t get in the final shot was the book that was lying next to the pile of movies.  That was her contribution to the creation of the scene.  As we were setting it up, I asked her why her book was lying there and she said, “To make it look like reading is second rate.”  Oh, so clever!  But I couldn’t get it in with the timing we had.  Drats!

My little boy is not a redo kind of guy.  I can get him to Pix15redo a shot two times, three if I’m really lucky.  So if I don’t get what I want, I have to use what I have. The cool thing about filming him is that I rarely tell him what to do, because he is just so young and innocent,Pix10 he does what comes natural and doesn’t think about the steps, which is almost always SO perfect in filming! He has one of the funniest zombie faces. I wanted to use it but told him he had to drool out his Cookies and Scream ice cream dessert so I PIx11could use it at the end of the video.  Ha. Then soon after dinner, my little girl fell asleep, so I thought, let’s just film her to look like she fell asleep playing a game on the iPad and have little guy be sneaky and get the iPad from her.  One time he came up so sneaky and then turned away from the camera.  So we shot it again and he turned with a huge grin, as if to say “Nana Nana Boo Boo, I got the iPad!”  It was bed time after that so I told him no iPad.  He didn’t think too fondly of that idea.  Haha.

Pix2My two older girls really helped me a lot in this video.  They shared the camera duties and helped me with several scene placement ideas.  As I shared earlier, we started this whole thing in the evening.  After my two littlest people were fast asleep, my two older stayed up filming.  These two good sports stayed up ’til almost one o’clock in the morning.  Then the next day, we still had to shoot a few more parts. They didn’t complain once. Of course, they got to wear makeup and so that was Pix9kind of payment enough for them.  Ha. The scene at the table was fun.  Well, the floor too, and the couch.  They were just a great help throughout! We shot most parts several times with some feedback along the way but overall I had a lot of good shots to choose from.  Of course, if you know editing, that’s good and bad – but more good than bad.  😀 …  The one with the shorter hair helps to keep me balanced and thinking straight. I need that when I’m under stress for sure!  She is almost always the one behind the camera when I am not.  Thank goodness I have her! The one with the long hair is a hair guru, seriously!Zombie  And on Halloween (ha- her one day a year to be awesome at it) she is a makeup extraordinaire!  Her artistry is quite amazing too!  Anyways, our friend said to her after she saw the video, “I can’t believe you let someone mess up your hair like that and have a dirty face!”  To which she responded, “I did that!”  The friend said, “Well, then you did a mighty fine job!” … To film this in 6 hours total, including eating dinner and everything that comes with that, I really could not have done it without them!

One of my most favorite parts of the video, and I laugh every time, is where I have my youngest daughter stand at the island in the kitchen playing the iPad.  Pix1I wanted to show the idea that when we are so engrossed in our electronic-whatevers, that we become oblivious to life around us.  The drops of ketchup on the counter was what I saw in my original vision!  The part we didn’t include was where she was “so engrossed in her iPad game that she put her hand in the ketchup like she was grabbing a nugget and then proceeded to eat it, at the same time I was directly above her eating the nugget.”  Of course, I thought the nugget was just as disgusting as she thought the ketchup was.  Haha.  Again, timing didn’t allow that I add that part.  But the ketchup on the counter was what I loved the most!   I’m thrilled that it came out so well!

If timing allowed, I was going to add one last shot before you saw the family Pix8at the table eating dinner together.  That shot was going to be seeing all the electronic devices left on the couch.  Spending family time together or time with those around you or sharing a conversation with a loved one far away is far more valuable than sitting on a computer or playing a video game or anything else like that.  My hubby and I remind my kids, himself and myself of that all the time.  It’s easy and fun to sit on Facebook or play games or watch “Halloween Cupcake Wars” or do work on-the-go, but it’s funner (not a word, but using it anyhow) to be in the present with those in the living.

That’s my “iZombie” story.  And I’m stickin’ to it!


Sincerely, Susan


I’d love to read how electronic stuff has made your life more easy and more valuable.  I’d also love to know how you keep your life in balance when it comes to life with technology.  Share with me your thoughts below!

To watch this video: “iZombie” (my version of Alex Boye’s “African Zombie”) click here!

(Don’t miss the couple of blooper scenes at the end of the video.)

Thank you Alex Boye’ for an amazing, fun song! – “African Zombie”




Build Your Kit – 3

“Families that prepare together, stay safe together! And let’s face it, they stay a little more sane together too! You’re like, “I know!”  I know!” – Emergency Elle

Week 3


Items to add: 

1 bottle of water
1 food item
1 stainless steel cup
$1.00 cash


Build Your Kit – 2

“A 72-hour kit that is built little by little is better than one never built, if you  know what I mean!”  -Emergency Elle

Week 2


Items to add:

1 bottle of water
1 food item
1 whistle with neck cord
1 days worth of your personal prescription medication (if applicable)
$1.00 cash

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Build Your Kit – 1

You’re like, “Aaack! I want to have my 72-hour kit BUT I can’t do it all at once!”  I know!  Emergency Elle here and I am going to guide you, step by step, week by week, so you can build your super powers – well, ya know, that beautiful 72-hour kit*!  So, let’s get going ….



Items to add:

(Backpackiconicon or other container)
1 – Water Bottle
1 – Food Item
1 – Emergency Blanketicon (reflective)
$1.00 (cash in baggie)

*Each person in your household should have a 72-hour kit. Some items on the list – you may need one for each member of your household (food, clothing, blankets, etc).  Other items on your kit list – you may decide you only need one for your entire household (shovel, ax, radio, etc).  It is important you determine your needs (size of household, your climate, etc) and add to your kit accordingly.


Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Emergency Fitness #1!

We all know that emergencies can be absolutely exhausting and physically demanding, to say the least!  It all starts with the adrenaline that rushes through you – and that alone can take a toll on your body. But it usually doesn’t end with just an adrenaline frenzy!  There is usually many hours of walking, building, shoveling, carrying, lifting and so much more that is required of us during an emergency.  Time to rest usually doesn’t’ come until long after the emergency has subsided.  So … PHYSICALLY preparing for an emergency should be on the top of our “MUST DO” and “START NOW” list!

Join Emergency Elle in getting yourself physically prepared for whatever emergency may come your way!  This fitness regimen is unlike any other fitness program you’ve seen or done before!  This is “Emergency Fitness”!  Not only are we working on building strength, but we’re also focusing on endurance and stamina! (Because emergencies require a lot of that from us.)

Invite your entire family and friends to join you and Emergency Elle, in getting physically ready for “that” emergency that WILL come our way!

Emergency Fitness #1

Equipment Required: Backpack, water bottles and walking shoes.


Have fun!



Emergency Elle uses a Large Backpack from Emergency Essentials.

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Up to 70% OFF!!!!

Crazy deals: Up to 70% OFF right now at Emergency Essentialsicon!  These deals only last till 5/31!!!

Emergency Kits up to 43% OFF!!!  Kits prepare you for most emergencies!  Don’t be without an emergency kit!  Ideal places to keep your emergency kit: Your home, your work, car, and children’s school.



Deal28-3 These buckets are easy to stack and store AND they’re packed with 126 single-serving pouches each – enough to feed one person with breakfasts, lunch or dinner for an entire month!!!  Wow!




This is a great book: Just Dutch It! Book  – Learn how to use your food storage – dutch oven style! YUM!!!  Recipes that can include several food items or just a few!  Tips for successful dutch oven cooking are included!




Deal28-2 Combo Sale!  Fruit, Vegetable, Entrees, Side Dishes, Freeze-Dried, Samplers.  These COMBO ESSENTIALS are amazing ways to build your food storage!



Deal28-5 MREs are a fantastic way to add long-term and ready-to-eat meals to your 72-hour kits!  The MRE Marinara Sauce with Meatballs is an excellent choice to add to your meals!





iconThis One Year Food Supply includes a great variety of food!  Over $1000 off is a pretty hefty steal of a deal!  All in those beautiful #10 cans!







Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Emergency Elle: “SUPER POWERS!”

Oh my!  Mother Nature has gone a bit crazy with natural disasters lately!  Will we ever survive these WITHOUT super powers?  Oh, Emergency Elle knows the secret to obtaining SUPER POWERS!!!  This is a video you DON’T want to miss!  ….

Emergency Elle: “SUPER POWERS!”


For the secret SUPER POWER checklist, CLICK HERE!

Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

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