I wrote my post yesterday then got into my cozy homebody clothes and settled down for a long summer’s nap, flipping on the television for some bedtime watching and I caught the tail end of “Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story” along with the song “Perfect” by Maren Ord (or so I think from my google research). 



I am one of those people who, given a good soundtrack background song at an opportune cinematic moment, has been known to weep uncontrollably and this was one of those moments.  Two minutes of the end of a movie that I haven’t seen for at least five years and there I was, snuggled up for my long summer’s nap, weeping and wide awake. 

So as I sat there and munched on the leftover veal from my delicious going away-dinner-doggie-bag from the previous night I began to ponder movies based on true lives that have inspired me and their corresponding crescendo soundtrack song that put me over the emotional edge. 


Here are some films that really inspired me and continue to every time I watch them (many of which I have used as illustration in my Multimedia Groups along with the corresponding memoirs) :


War Dance“:  This documentary film tells the excrutiating and riveting tale of of the students of Patongo Primary School in Northern Uganda, an area overrun and terrorized by the Lord’s Resistance Army (L.R.A.).  These children have experienced, first hand, atrocities that no adult could fathom.  They have seen parents murdered and friends dragged away and they fight fear and the imminence of danger daily just to get to school.  This is the story of the children purging out their trauma through dance and fighting diligently for their artful expression to be seen and heard in the National Music Competition in Kampala.


“Cry Freedom”: This film depicts the friendship between rights activist Steve Biko and newspaper editor Donald Woods during apartheid-era South Africa in the 1970s.  It depicts how the friendship with Biko, a brave anti-apartheid activist murdered in jail, gave Woods the bravery to write Biko’s story and escape South Africa to have it published.


“October Sky”: This is the story of Homer Hickam (NASA engineer and Vietnam Veteran) in his childhood when, after seeing Sputnick, he rallied his friends together in their small, impoverished, mining town and created a rocket of their own.


“Hotel Rwanda”: Paul Rusesabagina was the manager of the Hotel Mille Collines when the Rwandan genocide events broke out in 1994.  An estimated 800,000 people were murdered; Paul Rusesabagina was personally responsible for saving 1,268 people by protecting them within the walls of the hotel.


“Freedom Writers”: This is the tale of Erin Gruwell, a newbie teacher starting in 1992 at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, Ca.  Her classroom is full of troubled and traumatized kids who have experienced the gamut of the worst life has to offer, from emotional and physical abuse at home, to the violence, gangs, and death found on the streets.  They are up against every demographic strike against them from poverty, to racial issues, to an educational system that has already discarded them as defunct.  With Erin’s efforts and genuine sincerity for their quality of life and education her class defies all of the assumptions about them and survives, thrives, and fights their way out of what they were born into. 


“Lioness”:  This movie documents the fascinating lives of of five women on active duty in the Sunni Triangle in Iraq in 2003 to 2004 with the US Army’s 1st Engineering Battalion.  They were never meant to be in combat or in the line of fire or have to shoot their weapons but all of those things occured.  Women were not meant to be on the front lines of the Iraq War but the front lines proved to be everywhere and they ended up being the first women in combat. 


“Erin Brockovich”: In the early 1990s single mother Erin Brockovich got a job as a file clerk in a Southern California law firm.  In her filing work she stumbles upon medical records related to a pro bono real estate case and gets permission from her boss, Ed Masry, to research further.  This research led to the discovery of toxic Chromium 6 in the Hinkley, California water supply and led to a lawsuit award of $333 million dollars to over 600 residents. 


“Schindler’s List”: Oscar Schindler went from being a defunct but charistmatic businessman whose intention was to swindle the Nazi’s and the war out of all the profits he could muster to a humanitarian hero who saved the lives of over 1200 Jewish men and women and lost his momentary fortune to do so.  There are 7000 descendents of “Schindler Jews” today due to the man who gave everything he had to save them from death.


“In the Time of The Butterflies”: A film based on the true story of the Mirabel sisters in the Dominican Republic in the 1920’s and their part in the rebellion against the dictator of the time, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo.  They were brave women beyond imagination who fought with everything they had for what they believed was the justice and the salvation of their nation. 


“Julie and Julie” : A recent addition to my inspiration collection which juxtaposes the lives of Julia Child and Julie Powell as both struggle to find their place and find a voice for their passion in their “living” world and in the cooking and literary world, respectively.  Julie still has her blog up and current…I’m impressed!


All of these stories tell of people who could have done nothing but did SOMETHING.  They could have stood by or sat back but instead they took ACTION.  They are people with flaws and fears and people who second guessed their own bravery but still persevered.  That is something to inspire us all to aspire…I know I always need to do more, try hard, act more bravely and these stories give me that punch of courage when I forget or become complacent. 


And in thinking of inspiring true stories and my earnest hopes to push myself emotionally and mentally during my yoga teacher training I cannot forget to talk about Mr. Matthew Sanford who I was introduced to by a yoga therapist who worked with him and trained under him. 

 Matthew Sanford is the author of Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence and has been paralyzed from the chest down since the age of thirteen due to a horrible accident that took the lives of his father and sister.   He found himself waking to his life and his body through practice of yoga and, following that experience, spent his life dedicated to bringing that life and awakening to others. 


Matthew said (of writing his book):

“I wrote a memoir, not to tell you something about me, but rather to teach something about the mind-body relationship.”


A man who created a body of writing not for self-promotion or even for self-exploration but with a purpose and for a cause.  I hope that as much as this blog elaborates on elements of me and my experience that it stays focused and centered on the cause which is also creating connections, discussions, and relationships between the mind and the body experience and healing.  Ultimately in the hopes of being able to translate this story to be a piece of my work with mind/body healing and be able to better help others for having taken the journey.