Directors Notes: Transforming Pain & Breaking Isolation

Directors Notes

Transforming pain and breaking isolation are important lessons that I learned while making this film.  I was 10,000 road miles and six months in thanks to this project when we found out that my mother had dementia and could no longer stay in her home.  Moving her to a care facility was difficult emotionally, but it meant that I couldn’t stay there.  I live over 1,000 miles from where I grew up and couldn’t afford weeks of staying at hotels. I grew up in Manhattan Beach California which is an expensive place to stay.  My cousin Ann suggested that I stay at the spirituality center of my Mom’s parish, and that solved a big financial problem. Now I could see my mother as often I liked because it wasn’t going to  break the bank.

The emotional drain of seeing someone you love nearly die several times an hour was draining.  For solace I would go for walks, meditate, and pray. But soon, I found myself in East LA at Home Boy Industries working on my documentary.  I became a regular there because it gave me the emotional break I needed.  I think that Home Boy is the happiest place in Southern California.  As Father Greg Boyle told “me we go to the margins of society because that is where the joy is.”

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Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries (left)

I drove from Washington State to LA 10 times.  I was still happy to see my mother though she was slipping into a dementia that took away her ability to speak though she could still recognize me. A few hours of that was exhausting so a trip to Beit T’Shuvah or Home Boys was enough to recharge my battery so I could spend an afternoon holding my mother’s hand and reassuring her of how much I loved her.  I didn’t realize until later that if it had not been for this long good bye that I would never had the time to complete the production of Home Boy Joy Ride and Soul Sanctuary.

I have so much to be thankful for including finding a way to transform my personal loss into a message of transcendence and spiritual growth for families that were mourning the loss of loved ones who were addicted, in prison, or  had died from overdose.  My purpose here is to find connection and break through loneliness and isolation, and I am hoping that our series Called From Darkness from people around the world to do just that.