Maggie Doyne – a Bright Light in Our Troubled World

The other night, Maggie Doyne of Blink Now,  became the CNN 2015 Hero of the Year. Maggie is a 29 year-old American woman, who has 50 kids and lives in Nepal!

Maggie Doyne, Erin and Gail at the Kopila Valley Childrens Home, Surkhet, Nepal
Erin and I with Maggie Doyne and her children, Kopila Valley Children’s Home, Surkhet, Nepal

Maggie’s story and the path she decided to take early on in life, has touched the hearts of people around the globe and changed the lives of hundreds of Nepalese women and children.

Maggie was a high school classmate of my daughter, Erin. After graduation, Maggie decided to take a gap year and travel before heading off to college. Eventually, she ended up in Nepal and saw a country devastated by 10 years of civil war and thousands of orphaned children left in its wake. She used her babysitting savings to buy property and build a home for herself and orphaned children – she was 19 years old. Maggie has 50 children now, has built a primary school for 250 kids and is currently building a high school.

When Maggie accepted the Hero of the Year award the other night, she said; “ And to all of you in this room and who are watching, please, please remember that we have the power to create the world that we want to live in”. She’s done just that and has inspired countless others, to do the same.   She inspired my daughter and I to seek out other individuals all over the world who were creating positive change and to make a film about them, with the hopes it would inspire others to make a difference.

Imagine if we all thought like Maggie and believed we all have the power to create the world that we want to live in. The fact is we do have that power. It starts with the little things we can do – in our own lives, in our family’s lives and in our communities. Small things have a way of growing into big things. When you educate one child, you change a life that has the potential to change other lives.

Maggie, you continue to inspire me. You are a bright light in a troubled world and a beacon of hope. Congratulations for this well deserved honor.


If you’d like to watch Opening Our Eyes, a film about Maggie and other change makers, you can view it here. Use the code THANKS2015.



Commitment is everything.  It’s what makes us get things done.  It’s what makes relationships work.

Gail in bamboo hut in hill tribe village, northern Thailand
Gail in bamboo hut in hill tribe village, northern Thailand

It’s what makes us not give up, no matter how bleak it may look at times. It’s what gets us to stay focused on “the story” and be true to ourselves.

To some people, commitment can be frightening.  Their heads are filled with negative “what if” thoughts of failure that hold them back.  So, they plod along through life letting things happen to them instead of going after what they want. Those are the people who let resistance win.

I’ve always been a determined and committed person – if I say I’m going to do something, you can count on me to do it.  It’s tough sometimes though, to stay committed to myself and to what my true purpose is – it’s far too easy to get caught up with the regular flow of work and life.  But every now and then I get an idea for a creative project that just won’t go away.   When I finally decide to stop ignoring the idea and do something, I have a mechanism I use to help me make the commitment – I tell someone about it.  I’m the type of person that feels, once I’ve told someone I’m going to do something, then I have to do it – just to save face.  I call it “forced accountability.”

Seth Godin writes today about commitment: “One way to play in the digital age is to appeal to those that browse, the window shoppers, the mass audience that can’t and won’t commit.  The alternative is to focus on impact, not numbers and impact comes from commitment. “ He says: “ price is more than an exchange of coins. Price is a story.” Essentially, Godin is saying that in our noisy digital world, where ideas and content are free – we’ve got to be better, to make an impact.  In order to connect with the buyers on an emotional level, we’ve got to be “better than free”.

Every commitment that I’ve ever made has come with tremendous personal growth.  When I traveled around the world a couple of years ago making a feature length documentary, Opening Our Eyes, I not only challenged myself physically and creatively, but spiritually as well and I feel that I became a better person because of it.  I would not have been able to endure the hardships of that journey, nor the intense workload of post production had I not been committed to the idea.

What are you willing to commit to?  Commitment may be frightening, but without it, you may be spending your later years wondering, “what if I had”

“Here’s an Idea – Have a Point”

One of my favorite holiday movies is “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” with Steve Martin and John Candy. There’s a great scene in the movie where Steve Martin loses it and starts a rant directed toward Candy’s character, Del Griffith. Del, is a “nice guy” who talks incessantly. Martin’s character, Neal Page, an uptight ad man, frustrated by the day’s travel mishaps, finally explodes at his travel companion Del after one too many stories and says – “here’s an idea – when you tell a story, have a point!”

Am I the only one who has been oversaturated with multimedia and video pieces that are little more than pretty visuals to music? Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of pieces that I do like, but there are far too many where I get bored and bail mid-way through because there is no point – there is no story.

Worse yet, the audio or music track many times feels like it has no connection to the visuals. It may be a great piece of music and provide pacing for the video, but it doesn’t complement the story. And there are times that the music is the most interesting part about the piece – if you take it away, what do you have? Most likely a pagination of moving and/or still images – like pages in a magazine or prints on a gallery wall. Independent and isolated vignettes with a music track – but no story- just eye candy.

What holds my interest is a story, where all the elements of audio, music, video clips, stills, text and narrative are parts of the whole and each one is integral in telling the story. I don’t think I’m alone in being interested in the story. Humans have enjoyed “the story” since the beginning of time. It doesn’t matter if it’s told verbally in a one on one conversation, in a multimedia piece, or in a major motion picture – a good story is a key ingredient for human interest. We all love a good story.

Personally, there is so much out there to watch these days on any given site that hosts videos, if I’m going to invest time in viewing something – I want it to have a point. If it doesn’t when I get to the end – I feel somehow let down.

I’m sure some of you will disagree with me on these thoughts and many of you may get loads of satisfaction from watching pretty visuals laid down to music and that’s OK. I’ve just had my fill of pretty content splashed before me, becoming a blurred palette in my head.

So, here’s an idea – have a point.

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