That evening I spent at my niece, Liz’s home on Malibu, I had some time after talking to Kurt Russel to sit up on the roof terrace overlooking the surf as the sun set and lights shown on the Malibu cost. It was an relaxed time in which I was glad to listen to easy the conversation between Goldie and Liz. Goldie talked about a project that she had abandoned a couple of times but appeared to be coming to fruition. Clearly, she was excited about it. When I asked if there was a chance that she might be a headliner at our 2017 Mindfulness Conference in Roanoke she was interested in what we were doing but not ready to make a commitment. Clearly, she had plenty on her plate.
She also talked about a young man from Peru with whom she had personally become involved for many years through operation Smile that has helped disfigured children gain a normal appearance and further their acceptance and chances in life. Goldie is the kind of person that when she has made a commitment is faithful and does not abandon people when difficulties arise. She had chosen the young man, who lived in an orphanage, for surgery even though he was older than the typical client and stuck with him until he was young man. She had helped him further his education and helped to arrange for an adopted parent. Goldie had worked to raise money for operation smile and personally paid for the young man’s surgery and education and stayed in touch with him all the intervening years.
Ironically, I had known Goldie through her Mind-Up program which is a research based program school curriculum, published by Scholastic Press, for helping children learn about their brains and what they can do to focus, increase impulse control, handle difficult emotions, increase optimism and resilience and strengthen their ability to work with others.
Through a grown up understanding in simple language of our fight, flight, freeze responses to danger, an understanding of our “Guard Dog” amygdala that is always watching for danger, and the “Wise Old Owl” of our prefrontal cortex, children are able to use concentration on the breath to reroute the false alarm messages from the “Guard Dog” to the “Wise Old Owl” before sending it to the automatic “fight, flight, freeze mechanism.
The students learn how to turn into their senses in mindful listening, mindful seeing, mindful smelling, mindful testing, and mindful movement all of which strengthens the networks of brain neurons that lead to better focus, relaxation, increased memory, better performance. In the section on attitude students learn about prospective taking, choosing optimism, and appreciating happy experience. Lastly, they learn about taking action mindfully through expressing gratitude, performing acts of kindness and taking mindful action in the world. The curriculum is designed for use in a regular classroom in which the lessons become enhancement for the prescribed school curriculum and in places of transition.
Goldie’s New York Times best seller Ten Mindful Minutes is a wonderful companion piece for parents, teachers, with exercise for children covering all of these themes. The lessons are beautiful interspaced with poignant biographical examples from her life. I highly recommend it to parents. I wish it had been part of my skill set when raising my own children.
I spent some of my time this Thanksgiving reading Goldie’s acclaimed autobiography, Goldie: A Lotus Grows in the Mud. I was incredibly curious of how this renowned actress had become involved ion mindfulness, started a foundation to promote this curriculum, and become so passionate about it. Her story is much more than a tale of how a “c” student high school student, daughter of a middle class family in which both parents worked, whose passion in life was dancing, ended up starring in starring in thirteen major motion pictures and received an academy award. It is above all the story about the power of family, the power of integrity and a passion for self-discovery, the power of facing our limited time her on earth and making the very most of it for ourselves and others. Her story is riveting; I could not put the book down.
It was Goldie’s earliest dream to be happy. More than fame, her desire to be happy through all her ups and downs over many continents led her on a path of continued self-discovery. It seems so fitting that her life would lead to her Mind-Up program to help others especially children track their own course to a happier life.
I am not sure that I have the time left. My hope is to help the leadership of TAP make the TAP Head Start program the first Mind-Up Head Start Program in the country.