August 7, 2017

Change Happens in an Instant: Before We Go (2014)

Before We Go Poster.jpg
In his Netflix documentary titled I'm Not Your Guru, self-help expert and author Tony Robbins says that change happens in an instant. What I believe he means is that it only takes one moment to decide to and then subsequently act differently. While this may seem counterintuitive at first because of what you already believe, if you stop and really think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense. Go ahead and breathe a huge sigh of relief. I, too, used to think that change takes time; time that none of us really ever seem to have enough of, which is probably why we keep fooling ourselves to the extent that we keep procrastinating about doing anything about whatever it is (insert the names of people, places, etc.) in our lives that we need to do something about. Sound familiar?

But no matter how much we try to fool ourselves, deep down we know the truth. Don't we? To put this into perspective, think about the times when you met a complete stranger--in the grocery store, at the gym, etc.--and that interaction helped to change your whole perspective. Whether you were prompted to change your view about a person in your life or your job, the point is that in a single moment, you were prompted and then decided to change your life as a result. You see, the action part is key here because the action is what separates the old you from the new you or the changed you. That's precisely what happened with Brooke Dalton (Alice Eve) when she has a chance encounter on her way to Boston via the Grand Central Terminal in New York with a musician named Nick Vaughan (Chris Evans) in the movie Before We Go (2014). It's a great reminder to us all that change indeed happens in an instant. The question is: are you seizing the opportunity?

In the movie, Before We Go (2014), the night Brooke meets Nick, her life is seemingly in the crapper: her purse was stolen, her phone broke, and she missed her train to Boston. With no way to get back home to her husband (whom we assume she loves), she slowly begins to trust a complete stranger who is all too eager to help her because he wants to avoid his own inevitable truth: a confrontation with his ex. Needless to say, things get really interesting the longer the two spend time together and end up sharing their life stories with each other. They even end up visiting a psychic, too--you just have to see it. The best part, however, is that they help each other to realize and even face their own individual truths, which would make even a skeptic believe in fate or destiny--not just in a romantic sense, but also in a completely platonic sense as well. In the end, the two don't end up together--it's not that kind of movie--but rather they go off in separate directions, seemingly back to their lives to make some much-needed changes.



Although Before We Go (2014) is a cute walk-and-talk drama with a modern twist on the "meet-cute", it also offers something much deeper: a reminder that change happens in an instant. Like Brooke in the movie, when we're unhappy with any one aspect of our lives, we are secretly seeking out opportunities to do what is necessary: change. Sometimes that's why certain people come into our lives. It's like the saying goes: People come into your life for either a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Regardless of which category they may fall into, the point, I think, is that the people we meet and interact with are there to help us grow and change. So, let us all go forth and seize the moments in our lives that are leading us to change because change is growth and ultimately leads to happiness.

June 4, 2017

Do Something: Wonder Woman (2017)

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Image Credit: Flickr
There's an old saying--often attributed to Gandhi, but really is just a misinterpretation of his actual words--that says "be the change you want to see in the world." Simply put, it suggests that we as individuals all have the power to influence change in the world. This can be accomplished by first changing our own mindset and then choosing to be different; basically implementing those changes through action. Acting differently usually means being more tolerant or more charitable or both. Be of service.

We all, or at least most of us, tend to get inspired by stories of people seemingly selflessly pursuing acts of kindness, generosity, or heroism towards their fellow man/woman (or animals), but if we all had the attitude that we are a citizen of the world, then it would then become imperative that we each do our own part. Think about it. That's how all the great movements of change are initiated: when individuals first make up their mind to be of service and then choose to act in a way that is more conscious (locally, nationally, or globally), and in doing so are able to affect change by working towards solving an existing problem in the world and inspiring others to act as well. It only takes one brave soul to initiate a movement of action as evidenced in the movie Wonder Woman (2017). Diana Prince a.k.a. Wonder Woman serves as a great reminder to us all to do something, and when we do, we can make a difference.

In the movie Wonder Woman, despite growing up sheltered from the ills of the outside world, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), born Princess Diana of Themyscira, had a pressing desire to do more than the life carved out for her in the Amazon. From an early age, she wanted to train to be a warrior: one who would protect and defend Themyscira from the impending arrival and evil doings of Ares, the god of war, and subsequently save the world from his wrath as well. But when a certain American pilot by the name of Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash-landed on Themyscira, Diana was confronted with certain realities of the outside world that until that moment remained a legend for all intents and purposes. After rescuing the pilot and forcing Steve to tell the Amazonian authorities, including her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Neilson) about who he was, through the use of a truth-inducing lasso, Diana rashly decides to not only free the prisoner but also accompany him on his mission to help stop the war: World War I. Fresh off years of training from her aunt and General Antiope (Robin Wright) and recently realizing her great strength and abilities, Diana then set out that night--after a brief interlude with her mother in which she said goodbye--to kill Ares, which she believed would stop the war. 

Despite a few necessary detours to pick up allies, information, and resources to help with their cause, Diana and her travel companions finally made it to Western Front of the war. There Steve would prevent a German general by the name of Ludendorff (Danny Huston) from using a deadly mustard gas created by a mad scientist named Dr. Maru (Elena Anaya), but not before Diana could save a Belgian village by ridding it of German occupiers, and the gang enjoyed a short victory in which Diana and Steve shared a connection. After Diana gets antsy and almost jeopardizes Steve's mission and as well as the subsequent bombing of a nearby village, Diana pursues the man responsible, Ludendorff, and kills him to prevent further fatalities and violence. It is there, at this site, that Diana finally comes face-to-face with Sr. Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis), the man she believed to be Steve's ally, but who is revealed to be her half-brother Ares. Diana is forced into the biggest battle of her life thus far, both mentally and physically, and emerges victorious despite learning of the death of her love, Steve, who died while destroying the mustard gas. In the end, a new superhero was born and Diana had committed herself to a life of doing something: protecting all life.

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Image Credit: Vimeo

Although Wonder Woman is quite the entertaining action movie about DC's first female superhero (and arguably most famous female hero), with this movie, there is certainly more than meets the eye. Wonder Woman serves as a great reminder to us all to do something. Like Diana Prince, we all have the ability to affect change, superpowers or not, small or large. So, go forth and do something, be of service, "be the change you want to see in the world." The latter may be more of a bumper sticker than an actual quote from Gandhi, but it can still be true, right?

May 16, 2017

Be True to Yourself: Twilight (2008)

To borrow a quote from Shakespeare's play "Hamlet," "To thine own self be true." If only it were that simple, right? The problem is there are always a few unsolicited advisors, be it family and/or friends, who will feel the need to share their thoughts and opinions about your life to dissuade you from what they think is a big mistake or wrong turn. And while their weighing in may, in fact, be well-intentioned, sometimes it can do more harm than good; further confusing a maybe difficult decision or situation, particularly for the impressionable. But when you know who you are and what you want, it's a completely different story, is it not?

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Image Credit: Flickr
Having a strong sense of self, that is knowing what who you really are -- not the labels that people put on each other but really having a clear understanding of what it is that makes you you -- makes all the difference in the world. It's the difference between playing it safe and not giving a you know what. It's the difference between living according to someones else's rules for life and making your own rules up for yourself. In other words, if you're vanilla, be vanilla; if you want to live in a tiny house and not be forced to work a job you can't stand just to be able to afford a house that's too big for you anyway, go for what makes you happy; or if you don't feel like you fit in with the people you currently call your friends, go find new ones that accept and love you for exactly who you are. In a sense, that's what Bella (Kristen Stewart) did in the movie Twilight (2008), which is probably why the movie makes for a great reminder to us all to be true to ourselves.

In the movie Twilight (2008), Isabella "Bella" Swan, a beautiful seventeen-year-old who moves to the small town of Forks in Washington state to live with her father Charlie (Billy Burke), is forced to choose who she wants to be as she attempts a new life in a strange place. New in town and standoffish to say the least, although others gravitated towards Bella, they weren't exactly her cup of tea. Bella was different and she knew it. That's why Bella was drawn to the Cullen siblings, and more specifically, Edward (Robert Pattinson), whom she got to know in biology class, despite a couple of awkward initial encounters. Bella was intrigued by the seemingly socially-inept Cullen, who really was just a softy with a big, dangerous secret, one that he and his family were trying to desperately keep from the townsfolk. Keeping the secret from Bella, though, didn't last very long; it couldn't because Edward was drawn to Bella, too, in a protective way. But more than just the initial attraction or whatever it was that initially drew them to each other, Bella immediately felt at home with the Cullens, even after learning of their family secret. What's more, she was so confident she had found her rightful place in the world, being with Edward and the Cullens, that she too wanted to become a vampire. As the saying goes "birds of a feather flock together," and, well, Bella Swan had found her flock, being with the Cullens. And by the end of the movie, nothing and no one was going to change her mind about who or what she wanted to be.

Although Twilight (2008) is a romantic drama with a fantastical twist, it is also a great reminder to us all about an important life lesson of being true to ourselves. Like Bella in the movie, we can't be afraid of being who we are and doing what we want, even if that means venturing into unchartered territory and parting ways with our family and friends who don't necessarily agree with our choices from the onset, or ever. Besides, one of the things I know for sure is that people who really love and care about you will always come around to supporting whatever decisions you make in life, even if they need a little adjustment period, initially. So, go forth and forge your own path, the path that will undoubtedly help you to be true to yourself and ultimately live your happiest life.

April 11, 2017

Live Your Truth: Beauty and the Beast (2017)


When was the last time you did exactly what you wanted, with whom you wanted, and when you wanted? Why don’t you do that more often? What’s stopping you? I bet I know. Like so many people, myself included, you've probably stopped yourself from doing and being with whom you wanted because you were overly concerned with what others may think or say. I’ll let you in on a little secret: the people that are the happiest don’t really care about status quo. They march to the beat of their very own drum and are loving every minute of it. Kind of like Belle, from the movie Beauty and the Beast. A story about a “different” girl whose life doesn’t revolve around finding a guy, Belle is rather inquisitive, romantic and interested in other, worldly things… and she just so happens to find love in the process of being true to herself. Beauty and the Beast has stood the test of time as a wonderfully, inspiring children’s story (for the benefit of both girls and boys), but it’s also about giving yourself permission to live your life the way you want irrespective of others’ opinions. That’s why Beauty and the Beast is a great reminder for us all to live our truth. And what better lesson to teach young girls and boys!

Beauty and the Beast 2017 poster.jpgIn the movie Beauty and the Beast, a beautiful, young woman by the name of Belle (Emma Watson) lives in a small village that is less that enthused by her blatant opposing to being like all the other village girls. Truth be told, Belle was never like the other girls: she grew up in a single-parent home with just her father Maurice (Kevin Kline), an artist. Despite her beauty, Belle liked to get lost in books, frequenting the library to expand her mind and get lost in other worlds. Others, particularly her peers who were more obsessed with achieving male attention, were not impressed. Neither was Gaston (Luke Evans), a former soldier that wanted Belle’s hand in marriage. Belle also has a heart of gold and like any loving daughter, she would do anything for those she loves, especially her father. And that she did when her father disappeared and ended up the prisoner of the Beast (Dan Stevens), a young prince who once had a misunderstanding with an enchantress who then turned him into a hideous creature and cast a spell on him that could only be reversed by returned love. With a little trickery, Belle was able to switch places with her father and become the Beast’s prisoner, freeing her father and ensuring his safety in the process. Soon, an unlikely love story began to take shape in the Beast’s magical mansion of singing teapots and chandeliers. Over time, both Belle and the Beast were able to find common ground and eventually establish a friendship. This came in handy when Belle’s father landed in trouble with the townsfolk, a charge lead by Gaston, which ultimately landed half the town at the Beast’s doorstep, wanting to confront the creature. After a theatrical, climactic tussle and a seemingly fatal end for the love-softened Beast, Belle’s returned loved for the creature helps end the curse inflicted on him by the enchantress and brings him back to life, restoring him back to his male form. And both the prince and Belle, along with the staff of the mansion – back in human form again – live happily ever after.


While the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie is a delightful musical with an infectious, sing-a-along soundtrack that is sure to entertain all ages, it is also a great reminder of the very important lesson for us all to live our truth. Forget status quo. Like Belle in the movie, don’t be afraid to be true to yourself and pursue your own happiness. So, let us all go forth and dare to be different from everyone else, especially if being different and doing things differently makes us happy.

March 8, 2017

You Decide Who You Want To Be: Colombiana (2011)

A woman holding a gun in two hands, as if in prayer.
Choices. Our days are filled with them. Some small and seemingly inconsequential, and some huge and life-altering. And while the gravity of those choices is likely based on our perception alone, and not reality, the fact of the matter is that we still face a certain amount of choices on a daily basis, some of which will impact our present and to an extent our future, too. The only problem is sometimes we make choices based on misinformation or in moments of some kind of devastation or tragedy. These defining moments then become our driving force for the kind of person we then choose to be, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. Either way, whatever choice we make in one seemingly fleeting moment in our lives doesn't have to define who we are for the rest of our lives. We can always make another choice and change direction. For Cataleya Restrepo (Zoe Saldana), making her choice was easy, as it often is for us all. It was what came after that was the hard part, which is why the movie Colombiana (2011) is a great reminder of the important role we all have as a choice-maker, and that we all get to decide who we want to be with every choice we make. While it was easy to make a life-altering choice to pursue a life of crime in vengeance of her parent's brutal slaying when she was only 9-years-old, her young mind didn't necessarily fully think through just what that entailed or what would become of her (physically, psychologically, etc.) after she accomplished her goals. That's the thing about the choices we make, whether we make them of sound mind or not, there are always consequences of those choices.

In the movie Colombiana, choosing a life of crime was in all likelihood in the cards for Cataleya Restrepo, the beautiful and bright daughter of a drug lord's assassin. It was inevitable ... at least at first. What Cataleya probably didn't anticipate, however, was the possibility that her future involvement in crime would involve seeking vengeance on Don Luis Sandoval, her father's former employer and the man responsible for the murder of both her parents. Shortly after her parents' deaths, at the tender age of nine, Cataleya began working with her uncle to train to become an assassin. Although she took on many assignments to hone her skills, she did it all with the intention of one day accomplishing her ultimate goal: To track down Don Luis Sandoval and enact revenge for her parents. By the age of 24, and in spite of her uncle urging her to retire, Cataleya's assassin career had finally been aligned with that of her ultimate target Don Luis, thanks to a meeting with a FBI detective where she, of course, threatened the life of his family -- after all, she is an assassin. Long story short, Cataleya makes good on her life-long goal to avenge her parents' murder, and now her uncle and grandmother, too, by killing Don Luis and his close-by cronies. The only problem is after spending her whole life being a career criminal, waiting for the moment to kill Don Luis, Cataleya was now faced with a new decision: Who does she want to be now? Especially since her choices leading up to that moment left her with no family and future questionable contact with the man she met and fell in love with on her previous journey. Although at the end of the movie she boarded a bus going to who knows where you can bet that Cataleya's future would have likely taken a turn for the better as a result of some different choices.

Action-packed and highly entertaining, Colombiana is a great reminder to us all about the gravity of the choices we make regarding who we want to me. Although Zoe Saldana's performance is captivating, alongside her striking beauty, there is a lot of depth to this film that can teach us all about that important life lesson. Like Cataleya in the movie, we all face choices that will affect our lives (and more often than not others as well) and shape who we are. The good news is if we don't like who we are or who we're becoming, we can always make a different choice. So, let us all go forth and make the choices that reflect the kind of person we want to be, now and always.

January 22, 2017

Love Will Find You When You Learn To Love Yourself First: Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)



People are always looking for love. Or at least that's what the movies are always portraying. But what if we all stopped looking and just let it happen when and how it's supposed to? What would we do in the meantime? Well, we live. We focus on ourselves. We love, or if need be learn how to love, ourselves. That's what we do to fill our time and space. And then magically we'll find someone who will love us (almost as much) as we love ourselves. That is, if we've really done the real work to love and respect ourselves, making our needs and happiness a priority in our own lives. That's what Bridget Jones did in Bridget Jones's Diary and it worked, which is part of the reason why it's such a great movie. Perhaps the same is true in real life for both you and me. Maybe, just maybe, we too can uncover a great life filled with love for both ourselves and others when we learn to stop chasing love on the outside and start loving within first. Bridget Jones's Diary is a great reminder of the important life lesson to us all that love will find us when we learn to love ourselves first. Now that's something to be hopeful about.

BridgetJonesDiaryMoviePoster.jpgIn Bridget Jones's Diary, lovable, hopeless romantic Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) represents every woman at a certain stage in life when it comes to pursing love, especially in the wrong places. That is, until she gets a much-needed reality check, which only served to prove her "gut feeling" right in the first place. But before Bridget gets there, she falls pretty hard for the wrong guy. What exactly does the wrong guy look like? In this instance, he was literally everything that Bridget knew she didn't want but yet the little devil in her head just had to pursue him anyway. Handsome and charming, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) was quite the lady's man in addition to being Bridget's editor. Office romance turned very wrong, Bridget and Daniel's steamy affair was never built to last and Bridget knew it. Their relationship was just physical, and every time Bridget tried to make it more meaningful or lasting (or allowed herself to read more into things) she was quickly reminded by her lover that he never had such intentions with her. The man that she never thought she would have any romantic feelings for, however, esteemed lawyer Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), was just the opposite of her boss Daniel and before long Bridget began to realize that he was exactly what she needed and was looking for. Unfortunately, she didn't have this epiphany until well after Daniel broke Bridget's heart and she spent some much-needed, forced time on her own. During which time she did all the right things: she put her health first, focused on her career and spent time with family and friends. Over time, Bridget had finally resolved to only wanting the best for herself because she realized that she deserved nothing less, which of course meant not settling for being Daniel's toy. In the end, Bridget ended up with Mark and the two began what we can only imagine was a great love affair ... but then again there was a sequel.

Although Bridget Jones's Diary is revered as a modern-day classic romantic comedy, it's also revered for being honest and relatable. True, Renee Zellweger sells Bridget Jones like Coca Cola sells beverages, but equally important the entire movie is a great reminder to us all that we have to love ourselves first before embarking on love in external relationships. Like Bridget, we should all take the necessary time to develop and nurture a loving relationship with ourselves as a basis for attracting respectful and loving relationships, romantic or otherwise, with others. So, let us all go forth and learn to love ourselves first. When the timing and the person is right, love will find us.

January 8, 2017

Challenge Yourself: A Rose For Christmas (2017)

Image Credit: Hallmark Channel
When was the last time you stepped outside of your comfort zone and challenged yourself? You know, applied to a job you really wanted but felt you weren't qualified for, tried a new fitness routine like spin class, or finally took up a hobby you've been eyeing for a while? I know what you're thinking. You're thinking about all the reasons why you can't or shouldn't and let me tell you I've been there with you. But it's a new year now, and I say we should endeavor to be a little different this year and try something new, especially if that something new involves going out of our comfort zone. And that's exactly what Rose parade float maker and talented artist Andy did when she took a risk of displaying her painting in an auction for all to see upon the urging of her client turned new friend, Cliff, in the Hallmark Channel movie A Rose for Christmas. Like most of us, Andy had a tremendous talent and passion for something (painting) that she simply was too afraid of pursuing publicly. Her problem, like so many, was that she had gotten comfortable settling solely for working with her dad, using her artistry within the context of making Rose parade floats, albeit a pretty awesome job in and of itself. The problem was she wanted more and that's ok too. That's why this movie serves as a great reminder to us all of the important life lesson to challenge ourselves because, at the end of the day, it's kind of the only way to live a life of no regrets. As they say, no risk no rewards.


Image Credit: Hallmark Channel
In the movie A Rose for Christmas, talented artist Andy Lindry (Rachel Boston) finds herself at the helm of her father's float-making business just as a new client, Cliff (Marc Bendavid), makes his way into town with a tall order for his boss to deliver a Rose parade float to impress. Luckily for people-skills-lacking Cliff, Andy was able to round up some local talent to volunteer for the very last-minute, enormous project and provide some much-needed finesse with the volunteers to keep them motivated, on task, and enthusiastic about giving their free time during the holidays to help build a float for an uptight businessman. For Andy, however, working with corporate-minded Cliff wasn't the only challenge she faced. As she spent more and more time with her new client, they began to develop a real friendship. And like all good, true friends, Cliff saw Andy's talent and immediately began urging her to show off her work to the world, initiating an opportunity for her to get out of her comfort zone and enter a painting (at the time unfinished) into a local auction. Predictably, Andy's painting was a hit at the auction and with Cliff deciding to stay in town and make some changes in his life, presumably the two lived happily ever after.


Image Credit: Hallmark Channel
While A Rose for Christmas is very much a cute holiday-themed romantic comedy, it also reminds us all to challenge ourselves. Like Andy in the movie, we should stop hiding behind our comfort zone, whatever it may be, limiting our abilities to whatever it is we think we're supposed to be doing or whatever is expected of us. We can and should do more, especially if we desire to do so. So, go forth and step outside of your comfort zone, and finally pursue that thing you've always wanted to. What better way to kick off the new year than to start it off by challenging yourself to be a new, better you, right? Happy New Year!