The Reel Happiness Story
It’s my deep belief that no matter what’s happened in one’s life, stability and happiness are attainable. We just need awareness of certain strengths, the willingness to apply them, some courage and fortitude, and a model.
That first sentence is a bold one! I assure you I harbor no illusions as to the dark levels to which human behavior can sink. But I can also assure you that this need not hold sway over our future. We can overcome, and movies can help us do it.
My own life has been a long, strange trip in many ways. In fact, it’s been remarkable enough that people often ask me to describe, with specificity, how I overcame the challenges and made it here today. I’m happy to share my process, and film is the perfect vehicle for doing so.
My love of film was awakened during childhood summers in New Hampshire, which included frequent visits to the Oak Birch Inn. It offered charming guest rooms, a formal dining room, a sprawling lobby, expansive porches overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee… and a first-run movie theater. Truly the Overlook’s benevolent twin.
The defining occasions were Tevye’s dancing on the rafters dreaming of being a rich man … when the woman behind me involuntarily cried out, “Don’t shoot!” as Rolfe held a gun on Captain von Trapp … and when Lady Litton pulled the Pink Panther out of the cold cream, at which moment I realized that a woman could outsmart the best of them (no small revelation for a young girl in the mid-70s).
Ultimately, I think movies are just in my blood. My grandfather was on producer John C. Wilson’s senior team and helped stage many Broadway shows, but before that, he was on the team that produced the first movie accompanied by sound.
Laying the groundwork for the “talkies” that came later, 1912’s Rainey’s African Hunt ran with a concurrent narrative track performed by Ernest Torrence, and the success of its first New York showing is widely regarded as having provided Carl Laemmle the funds to launch Universal Pictures.
As for many others, my personal history includes some trying times. The first occurred primarily as a small child courtesy of a babysitter’s boyfriend and his insinuation into my preschool. Perhaps someday we’ll get into specifics, but suffice to say that my support circle and I only half-joked about who’d play us in the movie, and the investigative circumstances were such that the forensic anthropologist who consulted on Gorky Park saw fit to consult on the project. Thanks to the support of my profoundly loyal and courageous family and the dedication of an exceptionally skilled counselor, it is now simply part of my history and not something that intrudes upon my daily life.
When people learn of this part of my life experience, they invariably ask, “How did you make it through all that?” In addition to the support mentioned above, there are, in fact, some very specific approaches and paths I took to get past things. These skills are what I’ve “codified” into Reel Happiness, and into my forthcoming program Silent to Sound. They have served me well over the years, and perhaps they may do the same for you.
I’ve also had my opportunity to grow as a result of being in the orbit of some folks who struggle with alcoholism. I’m immensely grateful for the skills, gifts, and fabulous sponsor graced to me by the 12-step recovery movement, and I picked up my ten-year Al-Anon chip in 2013.
Finally, since 2004 I’ve dealt with a serious and chronic health condition that derailed my career and marriage but taught me some great lessons about living life on life’s terms. Perhaps someday I’ll experience full remission, but until that day comes I’ve learned to craft a life around my circumstances, and move forward day by day (including singlehandedly creating this site – it’s taken years, but I like to joke that there’s the hare, and the tortoise, and the snail; never give up!).
Whether borne of personal wiring, life experience, or some alchemy thereof, I have a knack for helping people identify and complete a transition. For showing them a new sail and how to set it, and then wishing them fair winds as they move forward on a new, stronger course.
- BA in English with concentration in writing and literary criticism, Trinity University, San Antonio TX.
- Certified Coach, Charter Advisory Board Member, and Senior Trainer for CoachU; personally trained, mentored, and coached by Thomas J. Leonard; specialization in teaching and personal coaching of the Personal Foundation Program.
- Qualified Practitioner of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment, Association for Psychological Type.
- Certificates in Collaboration Skills and Advanced Mediation from Chorda Conflict Management.
- Certificate in Cinema Therapy from the Zur Institute.