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Perfectionism – Are You Protecting Yourself from Success?

by Gail Mooney
March 17 2013

The best part about creating the documentary, Opening Our Eyes, was getting to be around some of the most amazing, inspirational people I’ve ever met in my life.  So many things that these folks said during their interviews, still run through my mind on a daily basis.

Showing Maggie the first “cut”.

One thing in particular was something that Maggie Doyne said when she was talking about what she built in Nepal “It’s not perfect.  If I had waited for things to be perfect, none of this would have happened.”

I work and live with a perfectionist, my husband and my business partner.  We are opposites in every way.  I am one to take my “big idea” and jump right into it.  I’m also one who wants to complete something and follow through right away, regardless if it’s “perfect” or not.  For example:  I could have/should have gotten this film professionally color graded before I sent it out to festivals and distributors. But, I didn’t have the funds to do that, so rather than let the film “get old” until I could get more funding (which may not have happened), I pushed it out to the universe, and good things have happened.

It’s good to be detail oriented and to strive for perfection, but not if you use it to give yourself reasons to stop yourself from moving forward.  Many times, when I tell my husband my latest “big idea”, his first instincts are to tell me dozens of reasons I shouldn’t act on it until……………everything is perfect.  His intentions are good – he wants to protect me from failure, but if I let it, his words might also end up protecting me from success.

We both recognize our differences now as our individual strengths and that when we listen, learn and balance those opinions and differences so that they can work together instead of opposed to each other, great things can happen.  But that takes practice and also not having to be right all the time.  There is no one “right” and that’s the beauty of collaboration and working in harmony.

 

 

 

 

How Can We Make a More Compassionate World?

by Gail Mooney
December 17 2012

Once again, I try to make sense of another senseless act of violence – this time one that snuffed out the lives of 20 innocent children.  Every time there is another tragedy caused by guns, we question our firearms laws and vow to do something about the “problem”.  The usual discussion takes place with lots of talk on both sides of the issue and then dissipates – until the next tragedy.

I think the “problem” goes beyond the discussion of a “right to bear arms”.  I think it speaks to a greater problem and that is how we deal with our fellow man.

Maggie Doyne and some of her children at the Kopila Valley Children’s Home in Surkhet, Nepal

Too often we judge others without knowing much about their circumstances.  Too often we seek to be understood but don’t place importance on seeking to understand someone else.  I think this happens when we become too insular – when we don’t allow ourselves to become in tune to the rest of the world or even our own communities.

Some simple thoughts on how we can become more compassionate:

  • Seek to understand – not just to be understood.  I wish I had a dollar every time someone said to me “my point is…….” – I would be rich.  Every time you are tempted to make “your” point – also make an attempt to understand someone else’s.
  • Learn to forgive – Human beings are far from perfect.  They do things and say things they usually wish they hadn’t.  When we forgive others for the hurt they’ve done to us, we free ourselves from the pain as well.  When we don’t forgive, we keep the negativity inside. It ends up consuming us.  Try forgiveness instead.
  • Don’t judge others – There’s an old saying “people who live in glass houses, shouldn’t throw rocks”.  Don’t judge others unless you want to be judged by them.
  • Don’t bully – There are many ways people bully – it’s not always overt.  Bullying really means forcing your way on someone else.  When you ignore someone, you are being just as much of a bully as someone who is more aggressive.  Essentially, you are no different in how you go about “getting your way”.
  • Treat people how you would like to be treated.  Stop and think before you speak and act. Would you like to be treated that way. I’ve never liked cliques for this reason.  There’s always an exclusionary aspect to a clique.  There’s always judgments being made about who should and shouldn’t belong.
  • Do things for someone without the expectation of return.  The rewards of giving are just that – the act of giving itself is the biggest reward you give yourself. When you do something and expect something in return and it doesn’t happen – it takes away the joy of giving.
  • How many times have you told yourself that you will be more caring and giving?  And how many times do you let that thought slip into oblivion without acting on it. Next time you say that – follow through.
  • Every simple act of kindness adds up.  Imagine if we all did something kind for someone every day. Just imagine.
  • Look past the someone’s exterior.  It’s hard sometimes to look past the actions of someone.  We end up questioning and taking things personally when in fact many times someone’s actions have nothing to do with us
  • Live a compassionate life and teach your children through your actions what that means.  It starts there. Showing compassion is one of the best ways to make our world a better place. You will set an example for your children and they will pass that along to future generations.

What are other ways we can be compassionate?

“Compassion and happiness are not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.” ~Dalai Lama

Introducing Our New Sponsor: CCI and Greenheart

by Erin Kelly
February 8 2012

Over a year ago, in October 2010, just a month after we had returned from our three-month journey to make the film, I wrote a blog about my new job that I had started just a few weeks before:

“I started a new job this month at the Center for Cultural Interchange – a nonprofit organization that facilitates cultural exchange programs for young people, mainly for high school students. I work in the Academic Year Programs department, which works with inbound foreign high school students coming to study and live in the U.S. You might think: “Wow! That job sounds perfect for you and makes so much sense, given your experience this summer.” And I would reply: “You’re right!” I’m very excited to be working there, and I feel fortunate that I am able to work in a field that I actually care about. I believe that it’s so important for everyone to have some kind of experience abroad, especially for young people, for it is through cultural exchange that we can learn to understand and respect others and ourselves. That is certainly something that I learned this summer.”

If you told me the same thing now, I would reply in the exact same way. In fact, I would have even more great things to say because I have learned so much about CCI (Center for Cultural Interchange) and all of its fantastic programs over the past 15 months. In addition to the Academic Year Program, which brings hundreds of international high school students to the U.S. each year to live with host families, attend school and participate in great cultural exchanges, CCI also brings university students to work, travel and have an internship in the U.S. through the Work Programs department. The Short-Term Programs department also offers a myriad of options for young people to participate in language clubs, direct school exchanges or stay with American host families for shorter periods of time.

Just as it’s important to bring international students here, so they can experience life in the U.S., it’s equally important to provide those opportunities to American students and send them abroad to learn about other cultures. CCI’s Greenheart Travel department provides such an opportunity, with programs for American citizens to teach abroad, volunteer abroad and attend high school abroad. Maggie Doyne is a perfect example of how someone could benefit from such a program – from her experience traveling and volunteering after high school, she was inspired to make a difference in Nepal and started the Kopila Valley Children’s Home.

Volunteering and giving back to one’s community is an important part of CCI’s mission as well through its Greenheart initiative. CCI is known as the “Greenheart of Cultural Exchange” because each of its programs offers all of its participants grants and support to do environmental and social volunteering while abroad. CCI encourages participants to collaborate with their new host community and work on projects to make positive change in a sustainable way. These experiences not only enhance the participant’s program, but also help make a difference in communities around the world.

We are very proud to announce CCI and Greenheart as a sponsor of Opening Our Eyes. We feel that their mission is perfectly aligned with the project and we look forward to future collaboration in promoting the importance of cultural exchange and how one person can make a positive difference in the world.

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Finding Your Bliss and Your Purpose

by Gail Mooney
December 22 2011

Last spring, my daughter and I set out to circle the globe on a 99-day journey, seeking people who were making a difference in the world.  A little more than a year later, we have completed a feature documentary about ordinary people on six continents who have not only had a positive impact on others, but they have had life changing experiences themselves.

This journey and the film were inspired by a

Maggie Doyne with her children at Kopila Valley Childrens Home, Nepal

young woman that my daughter had gone to high school with, Maggie Doyne,  At 19-years old, Maggie opted not to go straight off to college, but instead traveled on what was intended to be a gap year between high school and college.  Five years later, at the age of 24, she has built a home in Nepal for 35 orphaned children, where she now resides and had recently finished construction on a primary school for 250 children when we visited her last summer..

Maggie has caught the attention of quite a few high profile people who have helped her in her mission.  Last fall she appeared on the cover of the NY Times Magazine illustrating an article by Nicholas Kristof about DIY foreign aid.  She’s a remarkable young woman.  But what is often overlooked when one mentions Maggie’s accomplishments is that she herself, has changed her life’s path – before barely beginning.

Maggie is just one of eleven people that appear in our film, Opening Our Eyes.  As we traveled the world, my daughter and I quickly realized that all of these extraordinary people had one thing in common, beyond doing good for others.  They all had disrupted their own lives and had shifted course.  They had discovered their purpose and in the process, found their bliss.

Maggie is fortunate that she made this discovery while she was still young.  In a less dramatic way, I had my own awakening early in my career.  In the late 70’s, I had just finished studying photography at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, California and I headed back East to pursue a career as a photojournalist. It was not the best of times to be starting out as a photojournalist, at least in terms of being able to make a decent living.  So, I took a bit of a detour and pursued commercial photography instead.  While making the rounds with my portfolio in NYC, I went to see legendary photographer Jay Maisel. Jay was known for his blunt demeanor, and when he looked at my perfectly presented photographic portfolio, he tossed it at me and told me it was garbage.  He asked me if I had anything else to show him.  I took out my dog-eared photos from my first world journey that I had taken before heading to Brooks. As he looked through my “snapshots” he asked me how old I was.  I replied that I was 25 years old.  He looked me straight in the eye and said, “You’re 25 and you’re already making compromises?” That was a turning point in my life and I never looked back from pursuing my passion.

I suppose Maggie and I are lucky in that we discovered our purpose at such a young age.  But in making this film I learned one important thing – it’s never too late to find your bliss.

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99 Days and Counting

by Gail Mooney
September 28 2011

When I formed this idea, almost two years ago, I would not have believed then that I would still be working on this project now. Not only am I still working on it, but it has taken on a life of its own. In fact, we have  a new tagline, which aptly describes what this project has become:

It’s not just a Move – It’s a Movement

With that said, we have decided to launch another funding cycle, through Indiegogo. This time, we have more than just an idea and a lot of uncut footage – we have a finished movie and a movie that’s getting rave reviews.

Today is the start of our 99-day cycle of fundraising.  Why 99 days?  Well, for starters, our journey around the world took 99 days to complete the circle.  And, in 99 days, it’s Erin’s birthday – her 25th.  I was 25 years old when I decided to pursue the path I’m on as a photojournalist, instead of following a more lucrative profession.  I had gone to see Jay Maisel, a legendary New York photographer, known for his bluntness.  After making a lot of excuses of why I wasn’t going to follow my heart and become a photojournalist he looked me straight in the eye and said “You’re 25 years old and you’re already making compromises?”  It was a turning point in my life.

The post-production on the film was completed in July.

Opening Our Eyes Sneak Preview, Traverse City, MI

Since that time, I’ve spent countless hours submitting it to film festivals and trying to create awareness for the film. What’s the point of making something like this if it is not seen by as many people as possible? Our goal is simple and that is to get this movie “out there” by whatever means we can so that we can really make a difference with it.

A comment from an audience member at our sneak preview in Traverse City said:

“I just want to thank you for making this movie and let you know that you
have definitely succeeded in inspiring people. I’ve had a {sic} paradigm
shift after seeing this movie. I think you two should count yourself among
the inspirational heroes for bringing these stories to a larger audience.”

And at our sneak preview in Detroit, Oscar recipient, Pamela Conn who won for
“ best short documentary” stated:

“ I would just like to say that that’s the first thing I thought of was that
it’s obvious that this should be submitted for an Oscar. Absolutely this
is Oscar worthy.”

We have created something of value – a value that goes beyond dollars and cents. But to give this thing legs, we will need “dollars and cents” to take it the next steps. It takes money for festival submissions, PR and marketing and theatrical screenings. In fact Jon Reiss, the DIY of the indie film world says that a filmmaker should allocate half of their budget for PR and marketing – or your film will fall into oblivion.

This money won’t go into my pocket.  In fact, even creating this movie on a shoe string budget made up of airline miles and trades for services has exhausted my savings, not to mention taken me away from my business.  But, something is pushing me to do this.  If we can get this movie “on the map” then everyone wins, especially all the change makers that this movie is about.

Please help us with this movement. Contribute if you can or simply pass along this link to others. We all can play a part in making our world a better place.

As Marian Kramer, a subject in our film says “We all have to shine each other up.”

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Maggie’s Visit

by Gail Mooney
April 23 2011

Last Wednesday I spent the day with Maggie Doyne, a family friend, neighbor and subject of our film Opening Our Eyes. We spent the afternoon looking at hours of footage that we shot when we visited Maggie and her children in Nepal last summer.

It was a wonderful afternoon,

Gail and Maggie in Mendham,NJ

we talked, we looked at the footage that I hadn’t seen in awhile and we had a nice simple lunch. Being with Maggie is like getting a shot of goodness and it brought back a lot of nice memories of the journey that Erin and I took last summer.

It’s hard to believe that next month it will be a year since we left on our global journey. There are days that the trip is so fresh in my mind and others when it seems like a distant memory. I am still so hands on with the project – editing but for Erin it must seem like it happened in another lifetime.

Maggie said something that really rang true. As she watched the interview and other footage that we shot of her at the Kopila Valley Children’s Home and School she remarked how far she and all the people at Kopila Children’s Home had come since then. When we were there shooting, the school was still under construction even though classes had already begun. And the new kitchen hadn’t been finished yet either. Now both are completed and used on a daily basis.

I thought about how I had been feeling this past winter as I spent 14 hours a day, every day in the editing room for two months solid and I couldn’t see an end in sight to this film becoming a reality. But now it’s in the hands of a great editor with a due date to be completed late next month. When we started our journey almost a year ago, I never imagined that I would still be so entrenched with this project a year later. But then I look back from where I came and I can see how far I’ve come. I needed to be reminded to look back every now and then and observe from that perspective.

Thanks Maggie once again for your inspiration.

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Looking For Our North American Subject

by Gail Mooney
November 9 2010

The last two months, I’ve either been locked in seclusion in front of my computer, sifting through 150 hours of footage from our 99-day journey, or on airplanes, traveling as part of my “normal” working life. In either case, my mind is on this project, and more importantly on the people this project is about – the change makers of the world. I try to hold onto those thoughts, so that I can stay focused on our film and our motivation behind it.

Our goal from the start has been to shine a spotlight on the “individuals” who are making a positive change in the world, with the hope that our film will inspire and motivate others to be change makers. I’ve learned one important lesson is working on this project and that is we all, in our own way, even through the smallest acts, can make our world a better place. I learned that even though I’m not a doctor who has the power to heal the sick, I do have the power through my skills to create a film that can motivate people in a positive way, globally. I can use the tools of my craft – my cameras – to create awareness and that in itself is a powerful thing.

We still have one more story to tell and that is the story of an individual who is making a difference on the continent of North America. We saved our home base story as our last story to tell. So, we are now looking for our North American subject and we are reaching out to all of you for suggestions of people you know who personify the idea behind this film – the power of the individual in making a difference. It could be a child who is doing something in their own community and perhaps that would state the message the best – the simple, yet profound effect that even small acts can have. But we are open to any and all suggestions you may have.

We’d love to hear from you if you have a suggestion or if you could pass this request along to anyone you know who may lead us to our final subject of our film. You can either reply in the comments section of this blog or write us privately at:
gail@kellymooney.com
erinmkelly87@gmail.com

I’d also like to say thank you again to all of you who have generously donated to our project through Kickstarter. At this point in time we have reached 42% of our goal, which is great but we still have a long way to go, and with Kickstarter – it’s all or nothing – if a project doesn’t get funded 100% then none of the pledges are collected and we receive nothing. That doesn’t mean we won’t finish our film – but it does mean that it will take a little longer, and that I’ll edit it myself without the expertise that a professional editor could bring to the film. If you haven’t made a pledge, please consider doing so here:
http://kck.st/cTApuP
Even a $25 pledge has its reward of a DVD of the finished film if we meet our goal.

And don’t forget to send us your suggestions of who you know on our great continent of North America, that is making a difference in the world.

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Maggie Doyne on Cover of NY Times Magazine

by Gail Mooney
October 23 2010

I’ve got great news, Maggie Doyne the inspiration for our project and one of the subjects of our documentary is featured on the cover of the NY Times Magazine tomorrow morning. (10/24/10).

Maggie Doyne on the cover of the NY Times Magazine - Oct. 20, 2010

Make sure to get a copy and read about Maggie’s incredible story.

Another bit of exciting news is that we just launched our project on Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavors. Basically it’s is an example of crowdfunding where one can host their creative project on the Kickstarter’s website and offer people levels at which to donate. People can pledge amounts from $1 to …….. the sky’s the limit and most creators offer various rewards at the different levels.

We put our project on Kickstarter to raise finishing funds for our film. So as I continue to cull through over 150 hours of footage shot during our 99-day journey,  people can contribute to our project so that we can get the funds to hire a professional editor who will be able to take the film to a higher level. This will broaden it’s chances for distribution.  We have a window of 74 days to reach our goal of $7500.  Any funds that go over the $7500 will be split 50/50 with 50% going to promotion of the film and 50% donated to all our subject’s causes and foundations. If we don’t meet our goal of $7500 in the next 74 days – all bets are off and we receive nothing.  That doesn’t mean that the film is dead.  It just means that I will need to go it alone with the editing and it will take a little longer.

It will be exciting over the next couple of months to see what develops.  But no matter what happens, our ultimate goal for our film is for as many people  to see it as possible.  The more eyes that we open – the more we will motivate and inspire others to be change-makers and make our world a better place.

Please share our project with people that you know or on Facebook or Twitter or any other places you communicate.  We can all make this world a better place.

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Before the Memories Fade….And The Hard Work Begins

by Gail Mooney
October 2 2010

The tiger striped tan on my feet, from my well-worn sandals is fading, along with the familiar feeling of being “on the road”. As I ease back into my real life, and face the tough task of editing the 145 hours of footage that I shot, I want to take a breath, pause and just say thanks to all of you who have followed our journey these past months. Your support and encouragement helped us stay connected and focused on our purpose – shooting our documentary about remarkable people who are making a positive change in the world.

Kopila Valley Chilcren's Home, Surkhet, Nepal

Thank you all for being there throughout our journey.

There’s nothing worse than going to a huge effort, only to keep it a secret. Thanks to my good friend and colleague, Ethan G. Salwen who interviewed Erin and I while we were in Buenos Aires, during the last days of our journey, we were able to capture on camera, our thoughts about this experience before they faded away. I have used some of this interview footage in sneak previews and recent blog posts, to keep people engaged as I delve into the post-production aspects of this film. I will try to keep you all up to date on my progress. and I urge you all to keep following along and to share this project link with others. Our motivation for this film was to create awareness of what people are doing to make a difference in the world – the power of the individual, with the hopes that it will inspire others as to what they can do. Ultimately, we can only do that if the film gets seen.

My plan right now is to look at all the footage and then put together a rough cut of the story as I see it. I would love to bring a professional editor in on the project. Their expertise will only make the film stronger and tell the story better. My goal is to make independent videos of each of my subjects’ stories and then combine them in a feature length documentary. I have already connected with a couple of editors who expressed interest in this project through this blog and the power of networking. So, please keep passing along this link.

Of course once the film is made, I will need to publicize and distribute it, in order for people to become aware of it. I have some thoughts on how to do this, but once again it’s impossible for me to do everything myself so I will look to collaborate with others who have talents in PR. Anyone know any publicists with a good social conscience?

I know that collaboration is key to the success of any endeavors like this. From the start of the project’s inception, I have collaborated with friends and colleagues –who led me to people they knew who would make good subjects for the film – who helped me write press releases – who made donations – who helped me with on camera interviews – who, just by being there, supported us with their kind words and enthusiasm. So please stay tuned in, even if more time seems to lapse between posts, because we’ll be working away behind the scenes to finish what we set out to do.

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Behind the Scenes DVD – or Not?

by Gail Mooney
August 23 2010

In a little more than a week, our 99-day journey trekking around the world shooting this documentary will be over.  Or will it?  My work is really just beginning as I contemplate all we’ve done, people we’ve met and interviewed and how I will put this all together in an edited, finished film.

There are hundreds of ways I can edit this documentary and quite honestly, beginning the process and deciding the direction is always the most difficult.  But there will be a moment when the light bulb goes off and the vision will be clear as to how to make sense of it all.  Then it becomes easy as the story unfolds – as it should from my heart.  It’s the story that can only be told by me and this case, me and my daughter.

My daughter and others have urged me to do a behind-the-scenes DVD

Gail at the Kopila Valley Primary School, Surkhet, Nepal

– she tells me “that’s what people want”,  to know more about the making of the film – more about the people behind the film.  As much as I agree with her and understand this interest on the part of the viewer, there is also a resistance to make myself part of the documentary.  With that said, a separate “behind-the-scenes” chapter could be the solution – to provide more information, without inserting the two of us into the film itself.

One thought does keep popping into my head that motivates me to provide a commentary on the why’s and how’s of this journey and the making of this film. Too many times when I’ve visited museums, I’ve been taken aback by some of the things that I over hear docents talking about in relation to the paintings.  They analyze and interpret what the artist meant by his choice of color, brush stroke and placement of objects within the art and how that related to what was going on in his life at that point in time.  I often wonder how they know that or even how can they be so sure?  Is it documented or is it really just someone’s interpretation that has become fact over the years?

My daughter and I do plan to sit down this week and attempt to do on-camera interviews – while we are still in the moment and before we get back to our normal lives.  Here’s where we need your help – tell us what you want to know.  Maybe you’re curious about how we survived the dynamic of a mother/daughter team for three plus months.  Maybe you want to know why we did this – or how we funded it.  Or maybe the questions are even more basic – what did we like? – what was difficult?– any surprises? etc. etc.  Perhaps you want to know more about the craft of shooting the doc– and how I went about that.  And maybe you don’t really want to know anything at all and just want to know about the subjects of our film.

But please tell me what you’re curious about – as far as the behind-the-scenes making of this film.  All questions are welcome – from the seemingly obvious to the more provocative.

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