Movies, Books, and Learning

Dec 22, 2022

Written by Valynne Underwood

Years ago while in a college English Literature class, I was given the assignment to read a book by Harriet Doerr called Stones for Ibarra.  Being a student suffering burnout and having a full social life had more priorities than reading a seemingly dull novel.  Many in the class had secretly shared that a movie by Hallmark, had been made from this book rendering the possibility to all the maintaining of a well-established social life and easy completion of a class assignment.  I could go into great detail how we were able to obtain a viewing copy of the movie (think Beta and college library magic) but this is not the point of this post.  The point being was that I watched the movie unaware of the impact upon my life it would have.  

In quick summary, Stones for Ibarra-the movie, portrays the story of a young couple’s move to a small town in Mexico to open an old family copper mine.  The plot maneuvers among characters from different cultures and backgrounds struggling to understand each other but finding themselves at odds with one another.  The practice of the locals placing stones in a pile for travel and direction are insignificant details throughout the course of the story.  However, if one really took notice of the villager’s practice for placing of the stones, realization brings to light the novel’s purpose of the stone placements.  This purpose being when stones are placed by another’s home, the stone pile meaning became a “marking of the moment.”  It became clear that the placing of the stones was a symbol for one in need or showing an intention of grace, thankfulness, or acknowledgement for someone or something.

Since viewing the movie, I have developed the habit of “marking the moment” whenever I experience the profound or significant in my life.  It’s not always a rock or stone pile.  Sometimes it is just a thought in which I soundly know--I will never forget or its impact on my life, and this doesn’t happen often. One of these rare moments presented itself to me this past April. 

Of all things, I was at a baby shower and was introduced to Heather Falter.  I immediately felt that familiar sensation at the base of my neck. Something was about to happen.  Weird, but there it was, my signal to pay attention.  We conversed for a while, and I felt immediately drawn to Heather.  I found we had several things in common, she is a wife, mother, an artist, and most importantly someone who has gone further than many to establish meaning to her life.  I also learned that she wants to share what she has learned.  Heather has done a TedxTalk, developed programs to help people and share her light, AND has written a book.

Her book is, Becoming Whole.  I left for home that day with Heather’s phone number and a copy of her book tucked securely under my arm.  Very rarely can I start reading a “self-help” piece of literature and not become a little bored, and yes distracted, mainly because the reading seems over my head, or full of ideas lacking solutions and actions.  Becoming Whole pulled me in and made sense to me.  Before I knew it, I found myself connecting to the written content as well as making relatable sense to my life.   The words on the page addressed issues, in detail, that I had grappled with for years. Ideas surrounding the concept of forgiveness melded with an action plan.  A plan which is easy to perform.  Understanding basic purpose followed up with the gleaning of perpetual messy thoughts and lives, lead the reader on a path towards becoming whole. Heather’s thoughts are chronicled among the pages divided into categories of: The Pain, The Work, and The Joy. She has a way of making the deep and dark evolve into courage, understanding, light, and peace, through her metaphors of The White Plate, heart intelligence, and living all-in to name a few. Reading Becoming Whole, has been the game changer for me that I have always looked for.  It will for you as well; are you ready to pick up your pieces and glue them back together?

Becoming Whole: How to Pick up Your Broken Pieces and Be Who You Were Born to Be


Heather (left) and Valynne 


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