Wednesday, August 27, 2014


In my new book Reel Transformation: Your Life Now Playing I talk about the Five Stages of Transformation that all of us go through. These stages can be found in any good story where the main character grows and changes. We find them in the Bible, in fiction, and in movies of all genres.

Joseph Campbell wrote about these stages in his book The Hero’s Journey. He wrote about 12 Stages, and from those I have extracted five stages that we go through over and over again in our life if we are open to change and growth.

In any story, movie or life in order to see any evidence of change we must have a clear understanding of the before and after…the beginning and the end. The beginning of every story originates in what Joseph Campbell calls the Ordinary World. All of us start out in our Ordinary World. It might be a physical place, but it also includes our frame of mind, our beliefs and our habits. Even once we’ve gone through all five stages and return home…that new home becomes our Ordinary World that we will eventually get called out of again if we are to continue growing and evolving.

Our Ordinary World is our comfort zone. It is what feels familiar. Often we are so comfortable that we are reluctant to leave or change, even if we are unhappy. Yet there will be a Call that comes to invite us to venture out of the Land of Familiar to explore new possibilities. An example we see in the Wizard of Oz is Dorothy in the black and white world of Kansas. She lives with her aunt and uncle and her dog Toto. This is her familiar world, but she is not happy there. She experiences challenges and feels a tug of Divine Discontent when she wonders what life would be like somewhere else…over the rainbow.

Your Ordinary World could be your job, your family situation or even some beliefs that you have been comfortable holding that perhaps don’t serve you anymore. For example, if you’ve been feeling a tug to quit smoking, your Ordinary World is that of a smoker. If you are a young adult living at home with your parents, then that is your Ordinary World. At some point you will be called to leave that world. It’s not bad where you are, but we are always called to grow and that usually requires we leave what feels ordinary and comfortable to embrace something new.

Some more examples from movies: Neo (Matrix) in his world as a computer programmer, Luke (Star Wars) living with his aunt and uncle, Katniss (Hunger Games) struggling for food in District 12, Marlin (Finding Nemo) living in fear in his corner of the ocean.

EXERCISE: Getting in touch with your Ordinary World.

Think about the world in which you live at present. What are your physical surroundings? Where do you live and work? What beliefs are you holding? What daily habits have gotten all too familiar? There is nothing wrong with where you are now. Now think about where you’ve been? How have you changed and how has your ordinary life changed? You are not the same person you were 10 years ago, or 5 years ago and maybe even 1 year ago. What has changed? How have you changed? Our Ordinary World changes many times over a lifetime.

Watch for a post to follow where we will explore THE CALL to leave our Ordinary World and explore new adventures.

If you are interested in reading more about these stages you can find Reel Transformation: Your Life Now Playing at: and on Amazon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Reel Transformation: Your Life Now Playing ... now available

My book Reel Transformation: Your Life Now Playing is now available for sale at either Createspace or Amazon. It's available in paperback or Kindle. This book has been a long time coming and seeing it out in print is a dream come true. 

Someone posted the following yesterday on my facebook page:

"I just finished your book. It was fantastic. It was just what I needed to hear at this time in my life to reawaken my spiritual understanding."

Reel Transformation shows you how to use something you love—watching movies—to assist you in your own growth and transformation. From the beginning of time stories have been told to convey some deeper meaning. Jesus used parables to teach, and movies have become our modern day parables. In the parable of the Prodigal Son we find five stages of the transformational Hero’s Journey: 1) Home in the Ordinary World, 2) The Call, 3) The Wilderness, 4) The Awakening, and 5) The Return Home. We find these stages again and again in movies of all genres. After reading Reel Transformation you will be able to watch movies with intention and recognize your life now playing in the characters you see on the screen.

The next time you go to the movies get something more than popcorn; get transformed!

You can click on the image in the right column of this blog to take you directly to Createspace if you'd like to purchase the paperback. Or you can go to to find the Kindle.

I hope you will buy the book....and in the meantime, I'll see you at the movies!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

BOYHOOD (2014)

I was eager to see Richard Linklater’s new film Boyhood. I enjoyed his “Before” trilogy: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight, and how he showed us the same characters across a span of time. This time he wrote and produced an innovative movie about ‘ordinary moments’ in a coming-of-age film. Even though it’s called Boyhood the movie is really about the evolution and growing up of each of the characters in the family, including the parents. It was a risky decision to film a movie over 12 years with the same actors. Any number of things could have happened to halt the production of this film and Linklater is to be credited with taking on this creative risk, which totally paid off.

Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) is about six years old when the film begins. He lives with his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) and his mother (Patricia Arquette), a single mom who is divorced from his dad Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke). The movie moves seamlessly through the 12 years. We notice the passing of time through changes in hairstyles, music and cultural events as well as the subtle aging of the characters. We watch Mason grow and mature from a child of six to a young man entering college, and we see young Ellar grow up into a great actor as well. His sister, played by Linklater’s daughter grows up and blossoms into a young woman. We get to see Mason’s mother evolve from a woman who keeps choosing alcoholic husbands to finally going back to college and finding her place in the world. Probably the most evident maturation, though, is seen in the adolescent, mostly absent father who, in the beginning of the film, would rather be a ‘pal’ than a father to his kids. Mason Sr. by the end of the film has settled down, gotten married and had another child.

This is not an action-filled movie, and yet I was so engrossed in the ‘ordinary moments’ that I hardly noticed that 164 minutes had passed.

I take notice of quotes in movies as I often post them on my Reel Transformation Facebook page. My favorite quote came at the end of this film, but it captures the essence of what this movie is about. Mason is sitting with a girl he just met who says, “You know how everyone’s always saying ‘seize the moment’?” she asks. “I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.” Mason responds, “Yeah, I know, it’s constant, the moments, it’s just — it’s like it’s always right now, you know?”

Yes, I’ve said this film is about ‘ordinary moments’, but this is no ordinary film. This is an extraordinary, one of kind film of a lifetime. Don’t miss it!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

DIVERGENT: Faction, Factionless or Divergent?

Unlike The Hunger Games, I went into the film Divergent with no knowledge or expectations. I had not read the books or even heard about them before watching the movie. I love films that bring up interesting questions and make me think, and this one did not disappoint. In fact, I was so intrigued that I rushed to get the first book in the trilogy … finished it in no time and quickly read the remaining books.

Divergent takes place in a future Chicago 100 years after an apocalyptic war. The city is fenced off from the rest of the world, and when the Great Peace was established society was separated into five different factions each one dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue: Candor (honesty), Abnegation (selflessness), Erudite (intelligence), Amity (kindness) and Dauntless (bravery). The factions were formed in a belief that this could keep the peace. The Candor thought dishonesty caused conflict, the Abnegation, selfishness, the Erudite, stupidity, Amity believed being unkind led to the war and Dauntless believed bravery would keep war at bay.

Once a year all the 16 year olds are given a test that determines which faction they belong. They then attend a Choosing Ceremony where they are given a choice: stay with their family and faction of birth or choose a different faction. Beatrice (Tris) Prior belongs to the Abnegation faction and her tests were ‘inconclusive,’ which she discovers means she is Divergent. People who are Divergent score high in multiple factions, and they are feared by many who want to eliminate them.

The government is run by the Abnegation, who being selfless have no desire for power. While this sounds appealing…who wouldn’t want politicians who are selfless and not after their own gain or power, it also seems a bit confusing. Wouldn’t selfless also include kindness? And why would they not also be truthful? We have lots of politicians who aren’t truthful and we know how dysfunctional that can be. I can’t imagine anyone who is selfless being deceitful unless doing so would somehow benefit the other.  I can understand why they might not be dauntless or brave or even intelligent.

This film raises some interesting points. Is it beneficial to focus more on one particular trait to the exclusion of the others? There is an online test you can take, which I took and tested as divergent. I imagine everyone who takes the test will find they are divergent. I doubt there is anyone who has one quality to the exclusion of all others. We may be stronger in one or two, but my guess is only someone with a mental illness would be totally devoid of all of the other factions.

Another element of the movie that I found very compelling was the tests that each faction had to endure to qualify for their particular faction. For the Dauntless it was facing your fears. I think all of us could benefit by facing our fears to some extent. What I found incredulous was that the character Four had only four fears. Wow! I’d like to think I don’t have many fears, but I suspect there are a bunch of them hidden in my consciousness. I’m not sure I’d want to have to face them in a simulation, but I imagine it could be pretty powerful. Some of my fears I’m sure are hidden, and some poke their heads up on an almost daily basis. While I have many of the common ones like the fear of spiders and snakes, I also have a very unhealthy and unnerving fear of developing Alzheimer’s. I’m not sure why I have that fear, but I’d love to fight it in a simulation and crush it once and for all. Whenever it pops its head I simply do a ‘denial’ and an ‘affirmation’ to send it on its way…but fighting it in a duel and winning sounds pretty empowering.

I’ve read the other two books and I know what happens with the whole society and the Factions and the Divergents. I won’t spoil it here for those of you waiting to watch the movies. But I will say this….if you liked Divergent, you will love continuing with the story. I can’t wait to write about Insurgent when it comes out in March of next year.