What Movie Makes You Happy

There are a lot of movies that make me smile, and some that make me laugh. But there is one movie I was watching where I stopped and realized… I Feel Happy!!

It was during the movie Scrooge with Albert Finney and the song “Thank You Very Much”… and I felt chills of happiness. It rarely happens, so I really noticed it when it did.

Even now watching it again, I get those same chills.

Discover Prompts: Book; Cloud Atlas

If there is a movie that I have watched over and over again and have recommended over and over, it’s Cloud Atlas, which features Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Susan Sarandon.

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While a lot people will not be interested in this because it seems too sci-fi or who don’t believe in past lives, I were blown away by this movie as well as the book.

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This is one case where I suggest people watch the movie first, and then pick up the book to study. And it really is more of a study than a read. I found myself stopping to do research on places, times and events in the story that I wasn’t familiar with, and there is nothing wrong with that. It makes it a learning experience.

Several times while reading the book, I stopped and watched the movie again and something in the book suddenly made sense for me.

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It’s pretty involved, and you really need to pay attention in order to follow it since it jumps quickly between six different time periods. But after awhile, you start to notice the connection between stories and characters and events. Even using the Wikipedia as a cheat sheet, it still was sometimes hard to keep track of who was who and what all was going on, until towards the end it all started to blend and merge and make sense. The ending was amazing and showed how we all are connected, in this time period as well as other times, dimensions and places, and everything we do affects others and the future and the past affects the events in our present.

I think this is why I study both history and science… the past and the future and why I spend so much time tracing my family history and recording my life and current events. Maybe no one right now will find them interesting, but some day, someone will.

This is a movie that I’m going to be watching over and over again and each time come away with a new revelation.

My opinion is that this movie is going to take a level of commitment that a lot of people are not going to be willing to give it. My recommendation to anyone who is going to watch this is to first read the synopsis of the book on Wikipedia:

Cloud Atlas book

Then read the the movie synopsis:

Cloud Atlas (movie) 

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While the book differs somewhat from the movie in presentation, it will give you an idea of the basic storyline and the characters, which is why I recommend reading the book AFTER watching the movie several times.

That way you will see the interweaving of the characters and the actors who play them… each actor plays a different character in each time frame, although you might not even recognize some the actors. The make up done in the movie is extraordinary and the movie won several awards for makeup (and some criticism).

Then watch the movie. The WHOLE movie, even if you feel bored or confused at the beginning. If you only are willing to give it 15 minutes to grab you, don’t bother watching it. Because it will take watching it all, really watching it and concentrating on what is going on… letting it gel and then letting it finally come together and make sense at the ending.

Roger Ebert said the same thing I did, that this is a movie that you need to watch a second time and then a third time and a fourth time, because it will take all those times to understand the intricate interweavings of the story.

This is why I say this story, both the movie and the book, will require some commitment. But it’s one of the most brilliant stories I’ve ever seen.

What Dreams May Come is one of my favorites too… I have both the book and the movie. Cloud Atlas is much more complicated than Dreams.

What Dreams May Come is more about life after death, what people call Heaven, or the Summerlands, or Nirvana. And that the afterlife is like life, we create our own realities.

Cloud Atlas is more about life, and how the past lives influence us in the present and our present is influenced by the past and both influence the future.

In one point, one of the characters is asked if she believes in Heaven and what she thinks that is.. She says that she believes it to be one door closing and another opening. Many people who believe in reincarnation believe that too, that there is no afterlife, that we just go from one lifetime immediately into another. While What Dreams May Come suggests that we die, go to an afterlife and then can choose to reincarnate again.

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Wings of Light

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The book I wrote and published is based on this idea. It’s called Wings of Light and it’s based on some events that happened in my daughter’s life, including one day when she was about 2 and we were out for a walk. She stopped and crouched down to see a caterpillar. She looked up to me and asked,

“Cappapillar sleeping?”

“Yes.”

She stood straight up and stomped on the caterpillar.

“Cappapillar dead!!”

My story goes on telling about how and why that wasn’t such a good idea.

****

I wrote this story on Jan 29, 2001, when I was still somewhat religious… not the devout Christian I once was, but still a syncretic blend of Christianity and Wicca, which is why the story mentions angels and God. I’ve evolved quite a bit in nearly 20 years. My daughter died on Sept 14, 2000 at the age of 16.

Please be forewarned; there is a picture at the end of this post of my daughter in her casket. It’s not meant to be scary, in fact her five year old cousin said she looked like Sleeping Beauty. I’ve included it here because the picture is already all over the Internet… I’ve been amazed at the various places I’ve discovered so I decided to include it here as well. It was the last picture ever taken of her. Like sex, death is fact of life, it’s not evil, obscene or scary. It just is.

Here is my story:

Wings of Light
Written by Cindi Dean Wafstet
Jan 29, 2001

Once upon a time, a glistening castle stood tall in the Kingdom of
Serenity. But the castle was anything but serene after the Princess was
born.

They called her Princess No-No because “no” was the only word she ever
said.

One day when she was but three years of age, she was frolicking in the
woods. The Princess encountered a tiny Faery who looked like a
glittering orb of light.

Intrigued, she looked closely at the wee being, and asked, “Who are
you?”

“I am a fine Faery, and I am here to help you become your destiny.”

The Princess looked at the Faery and said, “I wish to be an Angel.”

The Faery shook her head no.

“My little Princess,” said the Faery, “You are not ready to be an Angel
yet.”

The Princess was not used to hearing the word “no”. She was only used to
saying it herself.

This angered the little Princess.

She looked down and saw a fuzzy black and yellow caterpillar resting on
the fallen leaves.

“Caterpillar sleeping?” Princess No-No asked the Faery.

“Yes,” replied the Faery.

Princess No-No defiantly stood tall, lifted her foot and brought it down
hard on the caterpillar.

“No,” she said, “Caterpillar dead!”

The Faery looked sadly at the caterpillar and then at the Princess.

“That is why you are not ready to be an Angel. That caterpillar was
destined to be a beautiful butterfly. You must learn to respect life
before you will be ready to be an Angel.”

The Faery flew away, and the Princess watched her go feeling very
confused.

Princess No-No never again killed another living thing. She learned to
love and respect all of life’s creatures.

Each year she asked the Faery is she was ready to be an Angel yet.

“No,” said the Faery, “Not yet.”

The Princess would lie on the grass and watch the busy ants at their
work. They taught her about responsibility and about taking care of one
another.

She hugged the brawny trees and they taught her about strength and
stability and growth.

She talked to her colorful feather friends of the sky who taught her
about wonder and freedom.

She talked to her courageous four-legged animal friends who taught her
about survival and family.

The amazing creatures of the seas and rivers taught her about
determination and beauty.

She listened the melodies and tones of the wind and learned to sing and
dance.

From the warmth of the sun, she learned to give and love, and from the
reflection of the moon, she learned about life’s mysteries and about
being a woman.

From the playful snowflakes, she learned how to reflect and laugh, and
from the soulful raindrops, she learned how to cry.

Every year, Princess No-No still asked to be an Angel.

And every year, the Faery still said, “Not yet.”

When the Princess was sixteen, the Faery finally told her, “Yes.”

The Faery christened her Princess CleoShia and turned her into a
Sleeping Beauty.

All of the Princess’ friends were heartbroken that their friend was no
longer with them.

Through the Princess’ friends, the Faery saw that the Princess had
indeed learned her lessons well.

CleoShia had tried very hard to make amends for killing the poor
caterpillar so many years before.

Suddenly around the Faery appeared a multitude of beautiful butterflies
in all colors, sizes, and shapes.

The Faery knew that butterflies meant rebirth, and that they were God’s answer.

Princess CleoShia was transformed into a magnificent Angel. Her black
hair shone brightly and brilliant white feathered wings spread out from
her back to reach the ground. Behind CleoShia’s head was a halo of
bright golden light.

CleoShia smiled at the Faery and said simply, “Thank you.”

“Thank you,” said the Faery, “You have learned your lessons well, and
God is pleased. The Gods beckon you to heaven. There you shall be a guardian Angel, to watch over all of your family and friends.”

Princess No-No, now the Angel CleoShia turned and saw a long tunnel and
at the end of the tunnel was a bright, white light. The light at the end
of the tunnel was her future. She knew she had learned and sacrificed
greatly for this honor.

CleoShia walked towards the light as she heard a voice say,

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to
harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

(Drawing was done and poem written by Courtney shortly before her death. I didn’t find either until after she died. The poem was used by her classmates as a tribute to her in the high school yearbook for the class of 2002)

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~*~

Your Guardian Angel
By CleoShia (Courtney) CE: 2000

I was driving down the road
Coming to see you
I was having a great time
Couldn’t wait to talk to you
I was worshipping and singing to the Lord
When our of nowhere
Someone ran a stop sign
I saw a white tunnel
Like everyone sees
I couldn’t believe what happened
How could someone do this to me?
I wasn’t ready to go
I had to see you one last time
I heard a voice from the light
“If you don’t come now
You will never be able to go”
I decided to stay
I had to make sure someone
Would always be there for you
I stood in your room
You didn’t know I was there
But you sensed someone was in the room
When ever you feel that sensation
Remember me
I will always be your guardian angel
For the rest of your life

 

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Prompt: Would you get rid of your television?

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At the moment I am reading various things from my email, from Facebook, from blogs, from webpages, while listening to music on my Amazon music page.

The TV isn’t even on. In fact, it’s rarely on, and usually when it is, it’s to also listen to music. I don’t watch TV very often with the exception of a few shows. I like Vikings, Blue Bloods, NCIS, Mom…. and reruns of Law and Order. I sometimes watch the news, but try to avoid that as much as possible. I don’t like being a captive audience of what is on TV, especially for the commercials. So I get most of the news online and from Google alerts. That way I can see the news in my own way and time.

I do watch movies on DVD at times, so it’s nice to have a wide flatscreen. But I don’t subscribe to Netflix and I’m not one to sit and watch a marathon of any TV show.

So, no, I probably would not ever get rid of my television. It has its purposes, and there are times when I’m not feeling well, and lying on the couch and just vegging on a TV show or movie is needed. Fortunately, that isn’t too often.

January Jumpstart Jan 8 Joy

Prompt: What three things bring you joy in life

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Number one: Research. I love looking for answers to questions of who, what, when, why and how? Everything I see is a prompt for me to learn more about it. I try to learn at least one new thing each day. I research everything from sex to history to science to fantasy. I believe we are destined to learn new things until the day we die.

Number two: Reading. I read anything and everything I can get my hands on… books, newspapers, magazines, webpages, blogs, cereal boxes… Anything that has print on it will capture my attention. Different genres grab me at different times. Pretty much everything I read will also prompt me to do more research on the topic.

Number three: Writing. From the time I learned to read, I wanted to know where the words came from, how they came together and how to put them together to make stories. I started writing my own stories when I was nine. They weren’t very good, but to my nine year old mind at the time, I thought they were clever and brilliant. It was when I was nine that I also discovered the library and was permitted to walk to the public library by myself. It became my refuge, where I would read, and research subjects and words and stories and then go home and practice my own version of those stories. I took creative writing classes in high school and college and worked on literary publications. I wasn’t always secure about my own writing during those times, but I learned a lot by reading other people’s work.

January Jumpstart Jan 4 Books To Read

One writing site of prompts suggested this one..

 

Make a list of books you want to read this year. 

This goes well with the Goodreads Challenge: 

https://www.goodreads.com/challenges/11621-2020-reading-challenge

So here are the 25 books I plan to read during the year of 2020.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Here I Shall Die Ashore by Caleb Johnson

New York by Edward Rutherfurd

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Eleanor and Franklin by Joseph P Lash

The Bastard by John Jakes

A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

Night by Elie Wiesel

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Trusting Doubt by Valerie Tarico

The Pioneers by David McCullough

Green Witch by Alice Hoffman

Family Pictures by Sue Miller

White Mare’s Daughter by Judith Tarr

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Wolff

Bearwalker’s Daughter by Beth Trissel

Dreaming the Eagle by Manda Scott

Book Bashing

Now that more and more people are participating in National Novel Writing Month, I’m seeing a lot of snarky comments from people; writers and non-writers alike…. such as “well, just don’t write a lame book like [fill in name of a highly successful book]..

Seriously? If a book is highly successful, there must be a reason for it. The author must be doing something right!! So, unless you’ve written, published and sold a book that has sold over a million copies, do you really have the right to judge and criticize?

You may not like the subject matter, or the characters, or the plot, and that’s fine. But you opinion of the book doesn’t mean the book is bad, it just means you didn’t care for it. But it seems like for many people, if they don’t like a book, better not be anybody who likes it!! That is what is lame, not the book, but your assessment of it.

I read alot. I read 5-6 books at a time. I try to go into each book’s story with the idea that I will find something about it I will like. I try to look at it all in a positive light. I read one book series that was very frustrating to me, but I read all 10 books of the series and while I didn’t care for the ending, I did search for and find aspects of the story that I loved. And the fact that this writer has finished and published her book is much more than what I’ve accomplished so far.

The worst, of course, are obscure published authors bashing a well known writer, which to me is just sour grapes and a sign of jealousy.

I think as both writers and readers, we need to go into a book with an open mind and a sense of wonder and a willingness to learn and experience something that might be brand new to us, without judgment or criticism and certainly not bashing it, just because the storyline is not our cup of tea. Your opinion is only for and about yourself; when you use to judge someone else’s work, it says more about your narrow mindedness than it does about the book. I wish book (and movie) critics could understand that.

Dietland by Sarai Walker

Dietland
by Sarai Walker

Plum Kettle does her best not to be noticed, because when you’re fat, to be noticed is to be judged. Or mocked. Or worse. With her job answering fan mail for a popular teen girls’ magazine, she is biding her time until her weight-loss surgery. Only then can her true life as a thin person finally begin.

Dietland is a bold, original, and funny debut novel that takes on the beauty industry, gender inequality, and our weight loss obsession—from the inside out, and with fists flying.

***

I bought Sarai Walker’s book Dietland after I read an article she wrote http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/opinion/sunday/yes-im-fat-its-ok-i-said-it.html, and a friend asked if I had read Walker’s book. I hadn’t but I knew I needed to. I immediately ordered the book on my Kindle and started reading it and I knew from almost the first words that this was a book that was going to speak to me personally. I couldn’t put the book down and I stayed up late reading, anxious to find out what was going to happen next.  All of the challenges I’ve faced in my 65 years of living seemed to be captured in this one book. It was like Sarai Walker plugged a USB cord into my brain and downloaded all of my thoughts, feelings and experiences.

If you’ve ever been judged for how you look, been told “if you just lost weight, you would be beautiful”, tried every diet under the sun and none of them did any good, been sexually harassed at school and/or work, or even on the street, or worse been abused, molested or raped, something in this book will touch you. The main character of Plum experiences most of these or knows someone who has.

Plum goes from a young woman who does everything society tells her to do, especially in trying to lose weight, living for the day when she is thin and beautiful, that she essentially has no life, no identify, no rights. She is judged by what she wears, what she eats and how she lives, always trying to do the right thing but getting no where fast. Finally she meets a group of women who help her see her own real potential and to liberate herself from everyone else’s opinions, all the while watching a very strong role reversal going on in the world around her. I felt like Plum was me.

I mourned the ending of the book simply because I didn’t want it to end. But I was happy for Plum and it gave me hope that there was hope, and Plum was an inspiration for me. It’s just too bad it took me this long to see that.

Upstairs at the White House

I just started reading a new book: Upstairs at the White House: My Life With the First Ladies by J. B. West and Mary Lynn Kotz

The stories range from Eleanor Roosevelt’s political strategies to Jackie Kennedy’s losses and the personal struggles of Pat Nixon, is an interesting account of a piece of American history that usually remains behind closed doors.

Children

“Children are a burden to a mother, but not the way a heavy box is to a mule. Our children weigh hard on my heart, and thinking about them growing up honest and healthy, or just growing up at all, makes a load in my chest that is bigger than the safe at the bank, and more valuable to me than all the gold inside it.”

~ These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine 1881 -1901, Arizona Territories by Nancy E. Turner