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Entries in inspiration and observations (83)

Monday
Jun292015

Monday Movie Meme – What Does PRIDE Mean to You?

In honor of Pride Month, the theme for this week’s Monday Movie Meme revolves around what it means to be proud of who you are. June 28th marked the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots -- a violent, six-day standoff between members (and allies) of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities and the New York City Police Department. What is “acceptable” in terms of ones social scene hasn't changed much in America regardless of whatever sexual orientation (or race, class, gender, age, religion or political affiliation) or sub-cultures you belong to.

So, I have a lot of respect for people who are unabashedly themselves in a world that tells them their “self” is not worthy of basic civil liberties that are bestowed upon others, such as being free of harassment and prejudice, and treats them as such. Share on your blog or in the comments section, movie characters that embody what “Pride” means to you. The term itself encompasses different meanings for me including the importance of two things:

Detective Mike Lowry (played by Will Smith) in 'Bad Boys II.'Taking Pride in your Appearance

There is a scene in the action film Bad Boys II when Miami police detective Marcus Burnett and his partner Mike Lowry are on their way to retrieve an inmate who has information that would help them bust a drug operation.

After noticing Mike wearing a nice suit, Marcus sarcastically asks “are you a cop, or a model?” to which Mike rebuffs “I threw something on, I like looking good.” I believe that Mike embodies what it means to take pride in your appearance because he practices a form of self-care that makes him feel good about himself. In addition to being prompt, articulate and well-educated, Las Vegas teacher Eugene Simonet in the drama Pay It Forward is also an example of what it means to take pride in one’s appearance – his clothes and hair are always clean and neat.

Although Mr. Simonet wears sneakers with his dress pants most of the time and might not hold a candle to Mike Lowry’s fancy wardrobe selections, this strict teacher still keeps himself well put together and I believe that makes a huge difference in whether you’re able to face the outside world with confidence or not.

Hiding away in unkempt frocks may feel comfortable but showing yourself that you are worth the effort helps in being proud of who you are; it’s nice when you like what you see when you look in the mirror!

Taking Pride in your Work

One of the film festivals that I submitted my military homecoming drama Abyss: The Greatest Proposal Ever to for consideration has a rule stating that filmmakers must only submit a movie they are proud to screen and promote. Since reading this idea it has sat with me for a long time and I am coming to understand more and more how important it is to do work that you can be proud of, especially you’re putting it out into the world. Elderly librarian Brooks Hatlen in the drama Shawshank Redemption comes to mind when I think of some of the movie characters who are proud of the work they do. Although Brooks was in prison, he found purpose in delivering books to other inmates, caring for a stray bird and making it possible for prisoners to transport goods throughout the cell blocks.

Brooks Hatlen (played by James Whitmore) in 'The Shawshank Redemption.'Where pride is concerned, however, this isn't exclusive to film. It’s about being proud of your work and standing behind it, whether that be artwork, literature, music, cooking a delicious meal, planning (or hosting) a party, raising kids well, keeping a healthy and physically fit body (whatever that entails for each individual), or having a stellar job performance in the workplace.

What movies or film characters embody YOUR definition of Pride?

Monday
Jun082015

It's NOT about the Pen! How 'The Wolf of Wall Street' Can Help You Win at Life

(l-r): Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio star in 'The Wolf of Wall Street.'Martin Scorsese's biographical comedy The Wolf of Wall Street is one of the wildest movies I've ever seen. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, there are useful lessons about greed, herd mentality, addiction, leadership and unethical behavior that can be gleaned from this film; which (aside from reminding me of the crime drama Boiler Room starring Ben Affleck, Giovanni Ribisi and Vin Diesel) is based on the memoir of former stockbroker Jordon Belfort who enjoyed an inflated version of the American Dream until becoming one of the FBI's (and the SEC's) most sought after white collar criminals.

Of all the takeaways from such a movie, there's potential for life to have greater wins than losses if you understand this simple principle -- it's NOT about the pen.

In one restaurant scene, Belfort, played by DiCaprio, asks a group of friends to sell him a pen. He also makes the same request to millionaire hopefuls, during a seminar later on in the movie. Both scenarios bring similar results of people attempting to win him over on various features this basic writing tool possesses. What most fail to recognize, save for his drug dealing buddy Brad's quick "supply and demand" comeback, is that their value proposition emphasizes the thing they're trying to market rather than the problems its end-user wants to solve. That approach is not the most effective way to get other people, especially strangers, to give you something of value -- in Belfort's case…that would be money -- in exchange for whatever it is you are offering to them.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in 'The Wolf of Wall Street.'Asking yourself what's in it for the other side makes a big difference between succeeding at getting what you want out of life and losing out on achieving goals. This is precisely how Jordan Belfort grew his brokerage firm in The Wolf of Wall Street; he kept the staff at Stratton Oakmont productive by playing on their individual desires for money, status, power, sex, drugs and/or related wants.

However, you don't have to be selling stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. to apply this one lesson to your own circumstances. Every day, there be times when your interactions with people involve some type of trade, whether that is for material goods, services, approval, validation, information, friendship, employment, romance, job promotions, support or other things you (and/or the other party) value. When those moments arise and you need to close the deal, remember that it's about figuring out if their needs or wants can be met with what you bring to the table, and if so, how can this be done. That is how you win.

Which scenes in The Wolf of Wall Street struck a chord with YOU?

When was the last time YOUR salesmanship skills were put into play?

Today's post about 'The Wolf of Wall Street' is written as part of my participation in June's "Movie of the Month" series hosted by The Large Association of Movie Blogs (#TheLAMB), for which I am a member. 

Monday
May042015

Monday Movie Meme – A Wakeup Call

Remember that early morning scene in the musical drama School Daze when Laurence Fishburne is screaming “WAAAKE UUUPP” on a college campus? Well, the Monday Movie Meme is back with a theme about flicks that motivated you to pay closer attention to one issue or another: Wakeup Call.

Share on your blogs or in the comments section, movies that provided some type of kick in the rear when it comes to you being more mindful of certain matters regarding everyday life. Maybe it was a film that actually caused you to change the way you do something. Maybe there is a movie that gave you a new perspective on a particular subject. Or, maybe it was a flick that heightened your awareness about an issue or motivate you to take action on an area of life. Whatever the case may be, list it! Here are my selections for this week’s “Wakeup Call” theme.

Million Dollar Baby

This sports drama is about a poverty-stricken waitress named Maggie who chases her dreams of becoming a professional boxer, under the guidance of a reluctant and grumpy veteran fighter. I still remember the day I went to watch this movie at the Ritz theater in Philly. It was a wakeup call to the fact that tomorrow is not promised, so there’s no better time like the present to make life worthwhile. The movie was also an example of how we are only limited by our beliefs, so the first step to preventing yourself from being full of regrets when on your deathbed is getting out of your own way.

Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story

This documentary recounts the controversy surrounding a Mississippi waiter named Booker Wright who worked in a whites-only restaurant, where he maintained a positive attitude despite enduring racist treatment from some of the patrons. He also managed his own restaurant named “Booker’s Place” and later purchased a school bus to help children in his community get access to an education.

Yet Wright’s appearance in an NBC television segment about racism in the American South resulted in him being pistol-whipped by a police officer, losing his job following customer outrage and losing Booker’s Place to a firebomb attack. There is a more to this documentary, so I would recommend watching this film but it was a wakeup call on many fronts; such as the fact that so many minorities who blame opposing sectors of society for keeping us down don’t seem to realize that we’re already doing their jobs for them when we fight each other.

As if that wasn’t sad enough, chances are that some battles within our communities have been orchestrated by third-parties, to turn one person against the next. The political landscape, as well as our country’s legal systems, are no stranger to such practices. We must do better and not squander the opportunities that people like Booker Wright have strived for and died to protect. Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story is also a wakeup call in the sense that you must always strive to do your best and find a way to maintain your own dignity, even when surrounded by people who see you only as a thing, rather than the man or woman you really are.

I’m Fine, Thanks

This documentary follows the journey of businessman named Grant Peelle who chucks a successful real estate career to pursue his childhood dream of making movies. Similar stories of women and men who made drastic career or lifestyle changes are weaved through his narrative, including a nomadic family, a former lawyer who now teaches Yoga, and a woman who lives on a boat. The points made in Peelle’s documentary are a big a wakeup call to figure out what The American Dream means to you. I’m finding that asking ourselves whether we really want something or is it what society or our families or friends tells us we should want or should have, has a profound effect on the level of statisfaction we have with our lives. 

I’m Fine, Thanks reminds me that life is like a movie in the sense that we can either be authors of our own screenplay – determining what happens in the next scene(s) – or we can merely play the starring role in one that someone else wrote. One way gives us a lot of choices while the other doesn’t really provide much room to change course when we come across a path that doesn’t suit our interests, skills or capabilities.

Speaking of writing your own script…

Mona Lisa Smile

This movie is about an art history professor named Katherine Watson who risks her job to help students at a prestigious, and conservative, all-girls school realize their full potential. I loved watching Mona Lisa Smile because it teaches an important lesson about daring to be different. The main character in this film went out of her way to show young women that they are capable of more than what is generally expected from them. What transpired in the story is a wakeup call in the sense that we play a vital part in shaping the future, based on the type of role models we are for younger generations who will determine how the world turns when that future arrives.

Katherine Watson defied societal norms while using her power and influence to show other women that they mattered, they had a voice and they could change the world. Mona Lisa Smile is the epitome of something comedian and actress Mo’Nique said in her speech when she won an Oscar for Best Performance in a Supporting Role, in the drama Precious – “sometimes you have to forego what’s popular to do what’s right.”

Pariah

This drama, about a Brooklyn teenager named Alike who endures an identity crisis while coming to terms with her sexuality, was a wakeup call on many fronts. Watching this movie had me thinking about how organized religion is a bitch at the root of a lot of society’s problems and the ways in which acceptance, being judgmental and having someone in your corner – or not – can affect a person’s overall well-being and the choices they make. Pariah was also a wakeup call in the sense of realizing how important it is to be true to yourself and stand up for what you believe in, even if that means you stand alone. The alternative is not worthwhile because trying to be something that you’re not is exhausting, stressful and lonely.

What are some movies that gave YOU a wakeup call?

Related posts: Monday Movie Meme: The Big Impact

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The A-to-Z Reflections Open today!

The A-to-Z Reflections Post has been a tradition since the first Blogging from A to Z Challenge in 2010.  We’re requesting all participants to tell us about your A to Z experience this year, by putting together your thoughts in a “Reflections” blog post starting anytime between now and Friday May 8th. There are no rules on the content -- it can be as short or as long as you like and it can be composed in any way that you wish. Once your Reflections piece has been written, add the 2015 "Reflections" badge to your composition. When you have your Reflections ready to go, then post it on your own blog site.
          On Monday May 4th (TODAY), the Reflections Linky List will appear on The Blogging from A to Z Challenge Blog at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com. Add the link of the Reflections post that you have already posted on your site. ***NOTE:  Add the link that directs to your Reflections Post and NOT your general blog URL***Please don't do this wrong and expect us to have to go back to fix it!

Do not take this invitation as a license to just get on the list with some random post that has nothing to do with A to Z.   These Non-Challenge related post links will be removed from the list.  

For full details about this please read Wait! A to Z Is Not Over! Not Quite. This post should tell you just about everything you need to know about the Reflections Post and if you still have questions, just ask.

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