Tools and Inspiration for Empowered Living

Books and DVDs for Inspirational Aging

The White Crow

Directed by Ralph Fiennes 2019

Rudolf Nureyev's name was on everyone's lips during my young adulthood.  He was the eptiome of grace, strength, and beauty in the many roles he performed with Dame Margot Fontaine and other ballet greats of the sixties, the seventies, and the eighties. What we didn't understand as we watched this luminous flame of dance was how his off-stage persona and behaviours were the product of a childhood scarred by deep poverty and humiliation. Developmental trauma, different from the one-off events we associate with a PTSD diagnosis, pervades the body and mind, shrinking our ability to form pro-social relationships.  The contrast between Nureyev the etherial dancer and Nureyev the wounded man offers a primer in the long-term effects of unhealed early trauma. 

Many critics, past and present, are disgusted by Nureyev's arrogance, because they could not see the shield it provided against his vulnerability to shame and criticism.  His art, lovingly nurtured by his mother despite her reduced circumstances and her absent husband and father of her children, gave him everything:  strength, beauty, glory, empowerment, fame, and opportunities to forget, for a time, the bullying and deprivation he endured as a child.  A particularly poignant scene in Fienne's film involves Nureyev and a waiter, a man the young dancer is convinced looks down on him because he is "a peasant."  Because the shame and humilation of his childhood were never resolved, his arrogance and cruelty became tools he used to feel safe when he was not centre-stage.

Now, because of childhood trauma research, we understand how the early, chronic trauma of poverty, bullying, and absentee parents limit our ability to connect in loving ways with others, at least until we address our wounds with somatic interventions such as dance. One of the film's final scenes illustrates how Nureyev's mother's sensitivity and love prompts her to take her son to what may be his first formal meeting with his fate.  This small child, so scorned by those who despise him because of his adverse family circumstances, focuses all his attention on performing a folk dance that demonstrates his ability to transcend the limits of his early life.

In those brief moments of loving and precise physical,emotional, and spiritual expression, we see the spirit that allows the man to blossom as a world-renowned dancer.  We also glimpse the hideous pain that is poverty, that isolates and shames.  In Russia, a white crow is the name given to the outsider.  How apt for a boy who learns how to fly, how to transform his pain into the glory we call Dance.

To read Jane's EFT International article (inspired by this film) about developmental trauma and how it can be healed in part by caring adults who learn self-regulation techniques supporting resilience, click here:

Our Souls at Night

Directed by Ritesh Batra 2017

Jane Fonda and Robert Redford anchor viewers in the secret world of older adult neighbours who discover the possibility of love and deep connection despite family demands and cultural expectations.  Tenderly rendered in the low-key style of its principle actors, this film honours the aging process as something that includes joyful optimism and courage as well as the limiting beliefs and expectations of adult children.

The Age of Love

A Documentary by Steven Loring 2015

Visit this site for a taste of Love and Speed Dating at 70 to 90 years

Alive Inside

A Documentary by Michael Rossato-Bennett 2014

This film takes us deep into nursing homes where people diagnosed with Dementia and Alzheimers are routinely given a variety of drugs which have been linked to the worsening of these conditions.  It is a tragic story until Dan Cohen, social worker and founder of the non-profit Music & Memory organization makes his appearance with iPods programmed to play the specific music of each person's life . . . the music they danced to as youngsters . . . the music they married to . . . the music they grieved with . . . the music they identified as their generation's soundtrack.  Cohen's premise is that music connects us with our lives in a way that nothing else does. His premise is supported by research demonstrating how music lives on in the brain and the heart long after the ravages of Alzheimer's and Dementia are manifesting.  This film makes the heart leap with the same joy that promps its subjects to sing and dance as they listen to their music and remember who they have been.  If you see no other film this year, see Alive Inside.  You can learn more about this vitally important musical approach to healing at

A Place at the Table

Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2013

This DVD profiles food deserts and food insecurity, not in the developing world but right here in the United States.  A provocative look at the political influences that keep so many children hungry, this DVD belongs on every social justice curriculum in the west.  As the producers claim, "A Place at the Table shows how this [hunger] issue could be solved forever, once the Americal public decides - as they have in the past - that ending hunder is in the best interests of us all."  For more information about A Place at the Table, please visit and

Forks over Knives 
Monica Beach Media, 2011  

This documentary explores how shifting to a plant-based diet cured degenerative diseases – including diabetes and heart disease – in several individuals willing to follow the regime of physicians prescribing a whole-foods diet rather than medications to improve health. This work is informed by the research of Dr. Collin Campbell, a nutritional biochemist from Cornell, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a former surgeon at “the world renowned Cleveland Clinic.” Interviews with research subjects and physicians make this 96 minute documentary a must-see for every citizen searching for healthy alternatives that empower individuals and are good for the planet.  For more information about Forks over Knives, please visit

Healthy at 100 by John Robbins 
Ballantine Books, 2007 

John Robbins, the same compassionate and well informed writer who gave us Diet for A New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Heath, Happiness, and the Future of Life on Earth in 1987, has written the quintessential book on how to age with joy and skill.  

Healthy at 100 is subtitled How You Can – at any age – Dramatically Increase Your Life Span and your Health Span. This is quite a claim, one the author supports by examining four distinct cultures and their successful aging strategies. By successful aging, I mean healthy, vital, productive, joyful aging. For more information on how these cultures produce long-lived, engaged citizens, please visit  

Standing Silent Nation

Prairie Dust Films, 2007

Long the centre of controversy here in the United States, the growing of industrial grade hemp remains a legal issue despite industrial hemp's viability as a key contributor to local sustainable food systems.  In this film we witness political and law-enforcement pressure exerted against a Lakota family's "struggles to retain tribal identy and sovereignty" in a narrative revealing how powerful the lobby against establishing a sustainable hemp economy is in the US.  If you don't know about the benefits of industrial hemp, a casual web search will provide research proving its versatility as a food crop, a building resource, a fabric source, and a biomass crop.  For anyone looking for a cause to work for, this film will inspire you.  Please visit for more information.  

Transformation in Canada's Deep South

Blue Crow Books, 1996

Described as a "love letter to my place" Transformation was my very first attempt at self publishing.  After moving from Toronto to Kitchener in the early 90s, I began to take note of the incredibly positive changes that were transforming our food system in Southwestern Ontario.  Peace and Justice workers such as Vandana Shiva were giving talks on how globalization efforts were destroying our local food systems, introducing us to concepts like food sovereignty, monocultures, and the need for local and regional populations to protect their diverse food and water sources from corporate companies furthering agri-business interests.  As a child of Essex County's glorious bio-region, I knew what a real tomato tasted like, what onion fields smelled like, and how the orchards on county roads fed pollinators so vital to our food supply.  I didn't know about Community Shared Agriculture and the relationship of local food systems to both community justice initiatives and grass roots movements to take on government ineptitude.  Two years of research requiring I travel around SWO, reminded me of the beauty and integrity of my birthplace.  Transformation in Canada's Deep South is indeed my love letter to this industrialized, over populated, magnificent biosphere where, despite corporate interests, it remains one of the most celebrated migratory pathways in Canada.

To order free copies of Transformation, please email or call (802) 533-9277 for postage-cost estimates.  In the meantime, I hope you will explore your own sacred part of the world and do what you can to protect its diversity.