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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

It takes a lot to make me cry at the movies. Today I wept more than once watching this wonderful movie starring Tom Hanks. Like I’ve said in previous blogs, when I see a fantastic movie, I am a different person as I leave the cinema. I feel courageous. I feel like I have the power to be whoever I want to be. I feel successful. I feel invincible. I feel connected to every single other human being on the planet. Honestly, I feel like I can fly!

This movie deals with many Life’s a Mango themes – relationships between parents and children, forgiveness, honest communication, connection and loving kindness. No wonder I fell for it hook, line and sinker. In a nutshell it’s about a journalist whose lifetime of anger directed towards his estranged father is really impacting on his professional and personal life. He then has the good fortune to be sent on an assignment to interview a children’s TV host, Mr. Fred Rogers.

It turns out that Mr Rogers is an incredibly sensitive and kind human being who can see the wounded and angry inner child within the journalist, Lloyd Vogel, and takes him under his wing with real compassion. He never gives up on him, despite the rejection and rudeness Fred receives in return.

Gee, I wish they made more movies like this. It’s so real, so authentic and really touches on how the traumatic experiences we have as children get woven into the intricate complexity that becomes our adult personality. What stood out for me in this movie is the message that when we truly forgive those family members who have really hurt us, we free ourselves. Our heart opens and we have the capacity to move forward in a brighter, kinder and calmer way. In no way is it an easy thing to do but the question is do we choose to forgive another who has wronged us or do we hold on to the grudge and the bitterness in our heart like a trophy until the day we die?

I have a family member who I haven’t forgiven 100%. It feels like a life’s work! It’s a practice I have to keep coming back to and working on day by day. I know I haven’t truly forgiven this person because when I think of them, my heart does not feel light, bright and calm. There is still heartache and pain. Do you know this feeling? It feels so uncomfortable because it’s not black and white. It’s complex – there are feelings of love, of happy moments, of closeness but also of betrayal, of being criticized unfairly, of not being seen, not being heard, of rage; it’s like a complex cocktail consisting of good and evil ingredients. The weird thing is that whether I truly forgive this person in my heart or not is going to make much more difference to me and my present and future happiness than to theirs. That’s the liberating thing about forgiveness. I think that writing the poems that make up Life’s a Mango helped me to express my heartache and to move more in the direction of forgiveness. Here are some poems from LAM that I find directly relate to the themes expressed in the movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood:

Being there physically and emotionally for our kids:

Advice to a Father

He sits and he sits

In front of the screen

Whilst his children grow up:


He just doesn’t realize

All the moments he misses.

These beautiful beings

Who are like joyful kisses.

When will he see that

The movies he views

Cannot hide his

Communication issues?


Therapists and Parents

You go over things

A thousand and one times,

Imagining alternatives;

A future divine.

This is like a river

Mourning its route,

A tree in autumn has

Some wish for green shoot.

The past is just that.

Let go of it Now.

Release it, come on,

Do not to it bow.

Whatever they did,

Forgive them I say.

Just love them whoever

They are now today.

We need to talk to our kids in a kind, loving and accepting way:

Watch Your Language

Get rid of how you

Think they should BE.

To be critical is

Devastating you see.

They’ll start to withdraw;

You’ll see less and less.

I can’t measure up.

In their mind they confess.

Be relaxed, Be yourself.

Give thanks for this child.

Let them see who you are,

Let go for a while.

When your child feels safe

To Be who they are,

Less functional language,

There’s no need to spar.

The relationship we have with our self and with others is a tricky, tricky thing. I hope that this movie and perhaps some of the stanzas from my poems will help you to navigate the waters to a gentle place of acceptance and kindness for your own life situation and for those of others.

Take care.


Jen xo

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