Movies

Prioritizing the next 28 days

I’ve just completed my fourth 28 Days to a New Me accountability challenge.

  • I got active in May by commiting to 15 minutes of daily activity. By the end, I was exercising 60 – 90 minutes a day. I was excited and confident, feeling encouraged and supported. I lost a little weight, my clothes fit better, and I was managing my symptoms better.
  • In June, I tracked my eating. I exercised the first couple of weeks, but dropped the activity when other things got in the way. Since I’m already self aware and cognizant that my food choices and eating patterns are way out of whack and very much a reflection of how I’m doing psychologically and emotionally, I’m not really sure I accomplished much.
  • July was the Ultimate Blog Challenge and I reestablished a daily writing habit. All self-care practices went out the window.
  • I decided to develop a book in August. I wrote daily, but the book has not happened, yet. Other things needed to be written and ability to write these past two weeks has been severely challenged.

Although I stayed in action all 28 days of each month’s challenge, I’m feeling very dissatisfied with myself and what I’ve accomplished. I recognize that some of that feeling is the damnable Impostor Syndrome rising up. However, I can’t help but feel as if the inner critic has valid points I need to evaluate.

I know I need to commit to the exercise and nutrition again, because those are the things that enable to me to manage my symptoms better and allow me to stay in a more constructive and positive frame of mind. I also know that I’ve been “dabbling” with my writing and it’s beyond time to get serious about actually developing it into something I can earn an income with. Otherwise, I will need to push myself mentally, emotionally, and physically to start looking for employment again, which could mean going back to pushing papers and being in an office where I’m serving an broken engine or system instead of actually having a constructive impact other than exchanging my time for a paycheck.

Luna is starting full-time Head Start on the 12th. I’ve already been in talks with the program director about volunteering and learning grant writing. I’ve spoken with the HR person and discussed a modified parent training program where I take the classroom ed portions of the Certified Teacher Assistant training program they offer. I’ve got the study books on hold with the library to study for the National Career Readiness Certification program offered by the local employment office. I’m fearful that I may have to set aside these plans for improving my skills and just take any job that can help our family financially, even if it just keeps us treading water and not moving forward.

The purpose of the 28 Days accountability group, is to create something new, to transform. There’s a part of me that feels as if revisiting previous goals is “cheating.” I feel I should recommit to exercising and writing, while adding on something new. After all, being successful in following through in one thing for 28 days and then dropping it when the next thing comes around isn’t really creating lasting change, is it?

Since, my ultimate goal here, isn’t actually losing weight (though that would be nice) or publishing a book (which would be affirming), it is about becoming a wholer person. (Yes, wholer. A concept taught by my friend, Steven Shomler, is that we may not be able to achieve actual wholeness, however we can continue to move into wholerness.) My heart’s desire is to be able to live a more integrated life inside of myself and be less segmented and compartmentalized. To let go of the the controlling manipulations which keep all my separate pieces contained and restrained. My goal is to create a balance between living my life for others and living the life I want for myself.

I recently watched Cloud Atlas and one of the things repeated throughout the movie resonated completely with me:

Sonmi-451: Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.

The present I am currently living is the future birthed from past crimes and kindnesses of myself and others. As is the present my adult children are living and experiencing. This future was created from chaos, confusion, and conflict. I’m striving to birth a new future for myself, which will, hopefully, build into better futures for those whose lives I touch. Making choices and decisions from the paradigm of self-satisfaction and building a life of material survival and comfort will not birth the future I envision.

A new friend shared this video clip with me today:

Since I’m an eclectic learner, I needed to see the actual words as well as hear them in the video:

We are all faced throughout our lives with agonizing decisions, moral choices. Some are on a grand scale, most of these choices are on lesser points. But we define ourselves by the choices we have made. We are, in fact, the sum total of our choices. . . . Human happiness does not seem to have been included in the design of creation. . . . And yet, most human beings seem to have the ability to keep trying and even to find joy from simple things, like their family, their work, and from the hope that future generations might understand more. ~ Crimes and Misdemeanors, Professor Levy

The September 2013 28 Days to a New Me (sign up here) goal stems from my remembering that transformation works from the inside out, not from the outside in and that the basis for reprogramming thoughts, emotional responses, and behaviors stems from inner spiritual transformation. Back to the first three steps: I can’t, God can, I think I’ll let Him.

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Entering the Kingdom of Heaven: Lessons from Rise of the Guardians

I finally had the chance to watch “Rise of the Guardians” with Luna the other day. Being a Dreamworks production, it didn’t disappoint. I now want to get the books to share with her as well.

While watching it I recognized symbology from a variety of cultural, mythological, and spiritual belief systems. It made me glad I’ve cut out my awareness of reviews and commentaries on these things, because I am pretty sure this wonderful movie probably was denigrated and attacked as an effort to subvert religious values of our Christian nation.

I’m a Christian, but, it really bothers me when this happens.

Our country was founded of freedom OF religion. The intent being that any citizen of our nation would have the freedom to believe whatever they choose to believe and practice the tenets of that religion without persecution or government intervention. They can also choose not to believe or practice any religion at all. Therefore, the USA is not a “Christian” nation. It is a nation where Christians are co-citizens with Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Neo-Pagans, Agnostics, Atheists and various denominations and sects of these and other belief systems. We do not have a right to expect our beliefs and religious mores to be adhered to by government or public institutions. We do not have a right to hold anyone, other than ourselves, accountable for teaching or disseminating our belief system. We have the responsibility to respect others in the manner in which we wish to be respected.

So, when I watch movies with Luna which aren’t specifically Christian in nature, I do not expect them to conform to the familiar symbols and figures of Christianity. Instead, I look for the themes and messages that align with the values I’ve learned from my faith. Values like hope, love, faith, community, cooperation, kindness and the like.

The characters in Rise of the Guardians are the guardians of childhood innocence: Wonder, Hope, Memory, and Dreams. They oppose fear and the things that strip away these intangible qualities of innocence.

So many of the conflicts and damage in our world have their roots in the neglect, abuse, and loss of childhood innocence. Identifying root causes and diagnosing mental health disorders often requires understanding and knowing childhood events. Many healing and recovery practices have people face their childhood experiences and memories where the loss of innocence took place. A significant number of self-help and personal development teachings include learning and practicing things that were an automatic and inherent part of being a child.

Those of us with unstable, disorganized, chaotic and insecure childhoods lose the innocence of childhood at too early a stage. Some fare better than others in their capacity to hold onto some part of these things. Some find the ability to still believe and pass it on. Often, though, without intending, willing, or trying we wind up in life patterns that perpetuate it.

We lose our wonder, hope, memories, and dreams.

We stop dreaming so we stop trying to achieve the dreams. We forget the joy and freedom (if we ever knew it) of exploring, getting to know the world around us, and the excitement of making new friends. We stop hoping for the things that fulfill us – unconditional love and acceptance, being part of something, bigger than ourselves, which encompasses us – and stop investing the time and effort to bring the dreams and hopes to fruition. Our sense of curiosity and wonder, which lead to gratitude and appreciation for the world around us and the people in them, leaving us uninterested and apathetic.

Loss of innocence is part of the process of growing up and happens quite suddenly and painfully for many of us.

Part of the maturation and growth process is reconnecting to that innocence. Letting wonder back in, remembering what is meaningful and significant, allowing dreams to flow, and allowing hope to conquer fear.

This is what I got out of the movie. Regardless of which mystical, religious, or mythological context the characters were based in, this movie illuminated and reflected values inherent in my Christian faith.

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Matthew 18:3
Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

“. . . and said, “Yes! I tell you that unless you change and become like little children, you won’t even enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”

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Daybreakers: What happens when adjusting to the new normal doesn’t work anymore?

I’m not generally a fan of horror films. Gratuitous violence, gore, or mindless action bore me and I’m not entertained by the shrieking and shrinking terror of those who are still developing their pre-frontal lobes in sylph-like form. However, like so many, I am fascinated by vampire and lycan mythology, and often enjoy watching movies about vampirism and lycanthropy, in spite of the inherent violence and gore which accompany them. Movies containing moral and psychological conflict where the characters have to wrestle with their own beliefs, prejudices, and outcomes of choices they made really intrigue me. When a new mythological context for telling the vampire or werewolf story happens, and new dilemmas and complexities are explored, I can really sink my teeth into it and draw a lot from it.

Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

“Daybreakers” is such a movie. When I saw the previews for it before finally seeing “After Earth” last week and I saw Ethan Hawke, Willem Defoe, and Sam Niel were portraying principal characters in the movie, I knew I wanted to see it. The quality and caliber of other characters I’ve seen them portray and movies they have been in served to whet my appetite and intrigue me about the movie.

I was given the opportunity much sooner than I expected when I told my cousin about it. She loaned me her new, unopened DVD on Friday, when Luna and I visited her on the spur of the moment and wound up hanging out for two or three hours. When LaLa and her SpiritLove decided to take Luna with them on their excursion yesterday, I finally had a few hours to myself and decided to watch the movie.

The year is 2019 and the world has changed and adjusted to what appears to have been a pandemic of vampirism. An infection that has left the nearly extinct, highly endangered human species as the only source of sustenance for 95% of the population.

The striking thing is that the people in the 95%, once becoming infected, adapted, adjusted, and accepted the change that stripped them of their so-called humanity. They continued operating and functioning as if nothing had fundamentally changed in their lives. There was little, if any, recognition that absorbing the changes and accommodating their new normal was a massive societal agreement to operate in denial of the inevitable devolution and destruction of themselves and their society.

Maintaining the facade of normality by getting up everyday, going to work, hiring military and police to round up and keep those affected by lack of access to the critical resource, called Subsiders, who are no longer able to fit in, appears to be the primary concern of most.

As human blood becomes more scarce and unobtainable, more and more of the population degenerate and devolve while the effects of the infection affect their brains and bodies and they are reduced to instinctive attack mode toward those who still appear to have what everyone needs to survive.

The symbolism and metaphors in this movie can be drawn in many ways:

• Amorality of corporations in conjunction with government preferring to seek answers that maintain status quo.

• The role and motivations of the power players in big pharma focusing on creating dependence on substitutes for symptom treatment over looking for cures, since cures will inhibit profit.

• People make awful choices, overriding the wishes, free will, and convictions of their loved ones, out of self-certainty, fear, and the need to be right.

• On a societal level, it’s easier and more acceptable to believe in and hide from the overt and immediate personal danger of a less privileged population fighting for survival than to recognize and hold our individual selves accountable for the part we play or taking personal action to create solution. We want someone else to blame, someone else to be responsible, and someone else to save us from our own folly, without expecting us to change.

The correlations of how members of our society criminalize the actions of those marginalized and devalued by the effects of poverty, mental illness, and the physical and psychological effects of these things are unmistakable.

One of the things that I truly appreciated about the movie is that it doesn’t oversimplify the cost and sacrifice necessary in order to hold onto hope, achieve solutions, and fight for the things that matter in affecting change. The solution and cure is unexpected and risky. Once cured, survival is not guaranteed, because the fight isn’t about obtaining a cure as much as it is about going against the established rule of might and those who have invested themselves in personal gain by maintaining the status quo.

The true horror in this movie is how easy it is to accept the unacceptable. The redemption comes once the hero understands his own capacity for change and acts on his convictions and values.

“Daybreakers” is rich and complex. This is a movie that has appeal to more than fans of the horror genre. It has sufficient violence and gore to satisfy them, but the exploration of relational dynamics between parent and child, siblings, societal classes, and racial tensions means it can appeal to a wider audience as well.

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