Thursday, October 21, 2010


It is amazing how one little idea can grow into something bigger than you ever dreamed imaginable. I am sure that the students and faculty of Whitwell Middle School never dreamt that their little afterschool project would ever end up receiving worldwide attention and eventually become a movie.

It started when the principal asked an instructor to create a program that would teach the students tolerance and diversity. Whitwell Tennessee was a small rural town with a population that, according to the US Census, was 97.35% white. So a Holocaust Education class was started in the fall of 1998. When told that 6,000,000 Jews had been killed during this time in history, one student, unable to fathom it, asked, “how many is 6,000,000? That set them on a task to see if they could collect 6,000,000 paperclips.

It turns out the paperclip played a role in Holocaust history. Johan Vaaler, a Norwegian, is sometimes mistakenly credited with inventing the paperclip. He did invent a clip, but it is not the same one use today. It seems the people of Norway used to wear the paperclip on their lapels as a symbol of resistance against Nazi occupation during the war.

As part of their project, the students developed a webpage and sent out letters to family, friends, celebrities and politicians. Slowly the paperclips started trickling in. Eventually the Press got involved and articles were written about the school project, and it began to pick up momentum. Paperclips starting arriving from all over the world. An old suitcase arrived from a group of students in Germany. Inside the suitcase were notes, written in German, attached to the clips. The notes were apologies to Anne Frank. (yes, this movie will make you cry)

It gets even bigger and better, but I encourage you to watch the movie for yourself….survivors of the Holocaust came and spoke to the students, a memorial was created, and over 29,000,000 paperclips collected….all from a little idea a principal had to help teach her students about diversity.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Yes it’s me again. I realize that I haven’t written here much lately. I’ve been doing lots of travel. I’ve been to Detroit, Indianapolis, Connecticut where I did my workshop Reel Transformation: Your Life Now Playing, and also was the guest speaker in Bentonville, AR. While I love traveling…there’s nothing like the ordinariness of a daily routine. I actually went a couple of weeks without going to the movies…oh my! We can’t have that! I had to make up for it by going to 2 movies in one weekend and watching 2 movies on Netflix. I just have to get in my movie fix.

I have also started a once a month Multi-Media service here in Fayetteville. At least it was supposed to be once a month. I did the first one on Eat Pray Love in September, but then traveled so much I had to forgo doing one in October. I have another one planned for November and the topic will be about the spiritual wisdom from the movie Inception. I just LOVE planning these services. I put all the music, youtube and movie clips into Powerpoint. I really enjoy putting it all together. I have a talk started on the spiritually of Avatar, but haven’t gotten back to it in awhile.

I went to see the movie You Again this past weekend. I enjoyed the movie, but I don’t think it will win any awards. The acting was a bit over the top and corny, but it was designed to be that way. It did have an interesting and timely message, however. It was about being bullied in high school, and how the angst of that can stay with you into adulthood. It made me think of the boy who recently committed suicide because a video of him was posted on Youtube. Growing up is difficult enough without being bullied by one’s peers.

I was made fun of in grammar school…and it was torture. I had a large nose as a child, which thankfully I’ve grown into. My classmates called me Grindl, which was a character on TV at the time played by Imogene Coco…who also had a big nose. I guess she didn’t grow into hers. I thought Imogene was ugly. While it was humiliating for me to be called that name, over and over again, I survived somehow. I used to hate my nose and yearn for one of those cute little button noses. Now I rather like my face, nose included.

The characters in this movie also survived into adulthood. However, they found it difficult to let go of the hurts of their childhood. Yet daughter, mother, and later we discover grandmother, all grew up and led very successful lives.

The title refers, I suppose, to having to face ‘you again’….the nemesis of our childhood. But I think it’s not about the other person at all. It’s really about discovering who You are again. Anytime we let someone else define us we lose our true identity and forget how awesome and Divine and special we really are. When we can finally let that go and be happy with ourselves, we’ve come home. I think as young children we remember how awesome we are, and then something happens and we forget for a while. I think it was designed to happen that way. We’ve left the Garden of Eden and we are wandering around in the wilderness. Hopefully we make it through and have an awakening, a remembering and we come back into our Awesomeness….our Youness….our I AMness.

If you are a teenager being bullied in school…remember, no one else can define you. Who you are is perfect. We are meant to be unique, but growing up is about trying to fit in and so being unique feels wrong somehow. Later in life it will all make sense. For now you just have to learn to make it through and stand up for yourself. Find others who are like you…they are out there.

If you are an adult and are still hurting over your childhood….get over it already! It’s in the past. Who you are is awesome. All those childhood experiences helped make you who you are today. You wouldn’t be the same person without them, so be grateful for everything. Remember the truth of who you are….claim it. Let go of anyone else’s identity for you and become YOU AGAIN.