015: Kathy Eldon on Sharing Our Journeys

September 15, 2017

FYS 015 | Sharing Our Journeys

Kathy Eldon is the founder of Creative Visions, an author of over 17 books, a filmmaker, a public speaker, and a warrior in the face of adversity.

I interviewed one of the most amazing woman I’ve ever spoken to or met in my life. She’s overcome so much. This podcast is all about overcoming adversity and finding your way to success. Her name is Kathy Eldon. Kathy has gone through eating disorders. She’s gone through divorce, illness. She has lost everything. She has loved again and then found out that the guy she was in love with had cancer. The worst thing of all, she lost her 22-year-old brilliant son in Somalia. He was stoned to death. We go through each one of these things. As you can imagine, very challenging to talk about these different subjects, but rather than her focus on the sorrow of the events, she really chooses happiness and really going towards that bright light. We go through it and I just find her so resilient in the way that she has always kept fighting back and trying to take a negative and turn it into a positive. Just her spirit is so infectious that as I was interviewing her and just so inspired by possibilities. We all have setbacks. I’ve had mine and turning that into something in a very, very, very positive light. Just so inspiring. As always, please go and rate, review and check us out on iTunes. It really helps in the rankings and whatnot. I appreciate all the love. You’re going to absolutely adore this woman, Kathy Eldon.

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Kathy Eldon on Sharing Our Journeys

I’m so grateful because I’m with one of the most wonderful women I’ve ever met in my life. She is the founder of Creative Visions. She has written over seventeen books. She is a filmmaker, a public speaker and she is from Iowa. This is Kathy Eldon. Kathy, how are you doing?

I am delighted to have you here, Mark, and to talk about mountaineering.

Actually, I don’t want to talk about mountaineering. Finding Your Summit, as we talked about when we were hatching this whole idea, is really about fighting through adversity and finding successful outcomes on the backend of that. I’ve talked to a number of different people now in the sporting world, in the business world, in the relationship world, and I don’t know anybody who’s more resilient and has overcome more adversity than you. It’s such a credit. You’re a beautiful soul to start with. I really wanted to get into your story and some of the things that you’ve done. I’m just going to give some teasers from the top there at the headlines: Eating disorders, divorce, illness, lost everything, you’ve loved again and then that person got cancer. Through all that, you’ve fought back and you’ve found your way into a very successful life. I think what I found out about you when I visited first is that maybe of all those things, the most tragic thing, is losing a son, 22 years old in Somalia, Dan.

It’s hard to compete with that one.

This is about finding your summit, in the context of there are multiple summits. We all go through adversity and I’ve gone through mine, my fair share, and we all have.

There’s no way out but through, every human being. To be honest, it’s what makes us who we are. I think the people who have had what we perceive to be a blessed life with very few challenges, that’s wonderful but going through the stuff and coming out the other end and finding a beautiful view or a bit of light or other people who have gone through stuff, those are great triumphs and they shape us. I don’t know who had said, “Where we’re scarred, that’s the strong part.” I just would feel very sad for the people who haven’t been through the hard stuff because they’re missing the joy of being out the other end.

[Tweet “Where we’re scarred, that’s the strong part.”]

One of the things I want to do is talk to you about how you got through the other side, know what strategies that you used. I’m going to quote something that I found and this might have been from you, “The human spirit is to overcome all obstacles as we achieve our highest potential.” That’s really profound and it’s amazing. I think that’s what we’re talking about here. Overcoming those obstacles and trying to figure out what is the best that you can be.

Interestingly, there’s another part of that phrase I think that might have got dropped off. I always want to achieve my potential both for myself and for others. It’s one thing to just achieve your potential. If you’re not in some way in service of others and our global tribe, I think it’s only part of the joy that we can actually feel when we achieve that potential.

That’s Creative Visions and that’s a lot of what you’re talking about, which is just an amazing organization. I want to go back to growing up because we don’t just all fall out of a tree and we are who we are. You’re such a generous person in the way your spirit is, the human spirit at its fullest potential. Talk to me about growing up, how you ended up in London during the 60s which must have been a crazy time and then what led you to Kenya.

I was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I didn’t grow up in a farm but our community was in the middle of very high cornfields, as far as the eye can see. I was lucky my parents were really interested in global issues. They joined the United Nations organization when I was about six or seven years old. They enrolled me in German lessons when I was nine and French lessons when I was twelve and Russian when I was seventeen. There was this global awareness. We travelled to Europe. My father sold everything we had to get us all to Europe when I was thirteen years old to eleven countries including Russia at the height of the Cold War and Berlin when the Wall was going up.

I was shaped by an awareness that Iowa wasn’t. It’s the epicenter of the planet but there was something more. I was very fortunate at the age of sixteen to be selected to be an American Field Service student to go to South Africa to study in an African school in the middle of the Orange Free State, which was a lot like Iowa weirdly. That was a radical revelation for me because those kids were ultimately what we would call racists. Everybody I went to school with believed that black people were ultimately, totally inferior but you should be very kind to them at some level, that they shouldn’t live anywhere near you. They had curfews and apartheid, which kept people very separate. I realized that these people were not bad people. They had been brainwashed by a church that firmly believed in the separation of races but I couldn’t hate the kids. I could hate their dogma and their belief system but I didn’t hate them. That was a big lesson for me. As we’re facing a world where there’s so much divisiveness and concern and discussion about racism, I think we have to step back and understand that people are taught things but that doesn’t make them a bad person. We have to get over that. It’s learned behavior.

That was a pretty amazing beginning. I went off to college and I fell madly in love with a young Englishman who was living in London. All I want to do was move to London. I spent a year teaching school in Iowa before running away with him. We got married; a lovely wedding in Cedar Rapids, Iowa but I was in England so fast you wouldn’t know what hit. I was 22 years old in Swinging London. We were young. We had absolutely no money so we swung as much as we could. Going to art galleries and free things but it wasn’t exactly a wild scene. Within a year, I had a baby. We moved to the suburbs which is devastating for me because I’d been brought up to believe I had a role to play in changing the world around me and I was stuck in the suburbs with ultimately two little kids. I thought I’d die.

This would be Dan and Amy, right?


What was the drive to get to Kenya?

I was very lucky because my husband was promoted. He became the youngest head of a country for this International Computers Limited like the IBM of Britain. At age 30,and I was 29, we went out to Kenya for him to run this company. We knew absolutely nothing. We had a seven-year-old and a three-year-old and arrived in Nairobi, which was this explosive, fabulous nation-building 1977 incredible environment. I very rapidly managed to talk my way onto the local newspaper. At first, it was eating out and then I was food. Then I got to do interviews with amazing, creative, active people and they were not asking permission. They were not getting licenses to do what they were doing. It was like, “Something needs to happen. We’re going to go and do it.” I was really inspired by these people. My son, Dan, who was then just a kid would trail along behind me and be inspired too.

FYS 015 | Sharing Our Journeys

Sharing Our Journeys: Something needs to happen. We’re going to go and do it.

He, at the age of about fourteen, realized that a young, scholarship kid who was living in the worst slum in Kenya needed a heart operation. He gathered his friends together and they started Operation Save a Heart. I have no idea how they raised the money, legal, illegal, no idea. We had a lot of wild parties in the backyard that he charged for. He raised the money for this little girl to have a heart-saving operation. This got him excited about the whole concept of helping. When he found a Maasai family who really needed school fees, he sold the Maasai jewelry to raise the money for this family to get education for their kids. He went from an individual to a family. When he was eighteen, he travelled to a refugee camp in Malawi and discovered that they had no water. The women were carrying water miles everyday. He gathered together a bunch of unlikely kids from seven countries, got two Land Rovers, and went across Africa on a seven-week safari to deliver aid to this refugee camp. That safari changed everybody’s lives. Including on the safari was Christopher Nolan who is the director of Dunkirk, one of the greatest directors in the world. Roko Belic who is the Oscar-nominated director of Genghis Blues and the film Happy, which is really questioning, “What makes us happy?” Amy Eldon, my daughter, was on that safari who became a producer and a writer, and Jeff Gettleman who is now the Bureau Chief for the New York Times in India was on that safari.

Your son now becomes this amazing journalist. When I came in here, I came in with another agenda. My goal is to talk about something basically, completely irrelevant to any of these great stuff that you’re doing and you said, ”Can I just give you a quick tour?” We walked through the building and you showed me all these art and all of his photographs and writings and everything else that your son who at 22, unfortunately passed away. I was blown away by how proficient he was in terms of the body of work he had done. As I was looking at this, I was like, “Whoever did this must have been 30 or 40 or 50 with as much stuff as he did.” It just blew me away, he captured that much stuff in that period of time.

FYS 015 | Sharing Our Journeys

Sharing Our Journeys: The Journey is the Destination

He worked fast. He was 22 when he was killed on assignment with Reuters News Agency in Somalia. We discovered after his death that he had left behind 22 journals and it’s about 3,000 images. We now have an art dealer who is handling the arts to benefit the foundation. His perspective on life was that of a young explorer, adventurer, quester. It awakened something in people when they see it in a collection of his journals called The Journey is the Destination. It was just republished by Chronicle Books with a new foreword by Kweku Mandela.

The concept was something that he really brought to the world. I think through the book and his work that has become a phrase that we see all over the place. When that book came out, nobody was really using it, so I’m excited for that. We’ve recently made a feature film about Dan which tells the story of the safari that the kids went on and then how Dan became the youngest Reuters photojournalist, and what was essentially a relief mission to save people. He actually brought the famine in Somalia to the world which created the desire to bring a relief mission to Somalia, but it deteriorated into a terrible devastating situation.

The day that Dan was meant to leave, tragically there was a bombing by UN forces under United States control of a house where they believed the warlord who was causing all this problem was hiding. He wasn’t there. It was misinformation. The bombing killed 80 people, wounded another 200, and the survivors ran to get the journalists to come and tell the story. When the journalist arrived at the site of the bombing, the people were so angry and hurt and enraged by what had happened that they struck out at the journalists. It wasn’t black versus white. There were two African journalists as well. It was really about the other.

How do you get over that as a mother?

One phrase that comes to mind is “No way out but through.” Other people have said, “You don’t get over it, you get through it.” I got through it by almost immediately deciding I had to transform it. The senseless death of these four young people, I had to try to do something to create meaning around it. I remember talking to the head of Reuters when he came for the memorial service and I said, “We can’t let these lives be in vain.” We created a book and a travelling exhibit. We did lectures about journalist’s risk. I really dedicated several years of my life to creating awareness of the fact that there is someone between the news. There is a news gather. There is somebody in between and it may be somebody with a cell phone nowadays. When you’re dealing with a crisis situation, there is somebody gathering that information and sharing those pictures. What that does to the person who is collecting that information and often in conflict zones, war zones, those people are in terrible, grave danger. Particularly now because it’s not like there’s a battle line and you stand behind it. You are often embedded with troops or you’re on your own. You’re a freelance who is out there gathering the information.

That for me became a personal quest and we worked together with Reuters and the Associated Press. That gave me something to pour the energy into. That did not in any way mitigate the grief. That grief, you have to go through it. It comes in waves. Everybody who’s grieved knows exactly what I’m talking about. You think, “I can deal with this,” and then you get another wave and it crashes you into the rocks and onto the shore, and you’re battered and bruised and then you have a little respite and then it comes again. Over time, it comes less frequently and there is more time between the waves.

Even now 25 years later, I can go into that space of grief. It’s profound and it’s deep. There was a quote by Khalil Gibran that I’m butchering but it’s essentially, “Dig deep the well of sorrow for therein lies your joy.” That’s true whether you’ve lost a relationship, like what’s happening right now with people losing everything they own. You have to go into that sorrow, I believe. It’s fine to grieve. It’s fine to howl with rage at what has happened to you. Be in that space but ultimately know that therein lies your joy, and one day you’re going to fill up that well of sorrow.

[Tweet “There’s no way out but through. You don’t get over it, you get through it.”]

I want to come back to Dan and I want to talk to you about moving back to the States. It sounds like you went through a divorce with your first husband.

That was before. Honestly, it prepared us. It was so painful that my husband, Mike, and I always say that that prepared us for Dan’s death. The sundering of a relationship that has been so important with children and a life that one creates together, that is a death. It’s a loss as profound almost, and sometimes equally painful as the loss of an individual.

I’ve been through it so I know that pain. It’s awful but as you said, you have to go through, and once you get to the other side, there can be a lot of joy.

I always hope that there is love of what was. We may not feel like we love that person where that person is right now. If we can try ultimately to imagine that one day, we will be able to view that other person with a memory of the love that we once shared. Always moving towards the loving solution. That can seem absolutely impossible when you’re going through it, but over time and with grandchildren or whatever it is down the line, one wants to be able to face that other person and remember only the good and that’s hard.

I think it’s also part of the human brain, the way it works. We tend to, after a while, gravitate towards those positive things that were once ripe in that relationship or with that person versus the other way of just holding on to negativity. We didn’t talk about this exactly but just the way that you operate your life, you cannot fly high with negative weight on your back.

I never know who actually said it, Desmond Tutu or whomever, “To not forgive is like taking poison and thinking the other person will die.” We are the ones who are having the weight of anger and hatred and retribution and revenge. Those are really heavy things. My favorite phrase now is, “Bless and release.” It’s like, “I’m just going to bless it and release it.” Sometimes you got gritted teeth but the more you can do that. It’s hard but to hang on to it, you’re the one who’s going to be weighted down, not the other person.

I think what you’re talking about really finding joy at some point in time once you’ve gone through the pain really applies here and of really being the inspiration behind the whole Creative Visions. Can you talk about that? This is the thing that I was blown away when I came in is you’ve really turned this loss into a tremendous gift for so many. I think it’s really important. There are so many people involved with this. If you could tee that up and tell us about that and how he’s the inspiration behind that.

When Dan was killed, I had been a journalist in Kenya and I had made a feature film on ivory poaching because I believe that storytelling is the essence of positive change in our world or negative. A lot of stories about anti-heroes tend to inspire the wrong parts of us. I believe passionately in the power of media. When Dan was killed, I decided I had to make a feature film that would shine a light on these young people who are doing such great work in the world. I wanted it to inspire other young people to believe they had a role to play in changing the world for the better around them. I moved to Los Angeles in 1993 determined to make a feature film.

FYS 015 | Sharing Our Journeys

Sharing Our Journeys: To not forgive is like taking poison and thinking the other person will die.

Have you ever done a feature film before?

I’ve done a film but it was a very small cog in a film on ivory poaching in Kenya. To move to Los Angeles, I really knew not a single person. I had no resources. I was with a very interesting man who had helped produced the feature film. I was really, really broken and grieving. I arrived and within a year, I actually had a deal with Disney. It was going to be this amazing film and we had wonderful people involved and then they fired the head of Disney. That was classic. It was one of the Disney affiliates. Then another three or four years, I got a deal with Columbia Pictures with Lisa Henson who is absolutely wonderful. She hired a director, Bronwen Hughes, a writer, Jan Sardi, who was nominated for an Oscar. We had a script. We had Orlando Bloom attached. It was all a go and then Orlando Bloom decided he had to do another film; I think Pirates of the Caribbean or something. I had to put a pit in it over and over again for years and years and years. Finally, everybody gave up and wandered off, so I got the rights back.

By then, I had decided that we had to make a documentary. Amy, my daughter, at the age of 21 had come up with an idea at Boston University to do a film called Dying to Tell the Story, which was a documentary about journalists at risks. We went off to seven countries, shot this amazing documentary with Amy’s vision and Kyra Thompson’s unbelievable direction. It was nominated for an Emmy. We thought, “This is easy, this whole documentary thing, there’s no problem.” We went on to have a career in documentaries and discovered it’s incredibly difficult. We did a film on the Children’s Peace Movement Columbia that premiered at the United Nations. We did a series for PBS that nearly killed us called Global Tribe.

You’re talking about getting funded?

Yes. It’s so flipping hard. We decided to start an organization, Creative Visions, dedicated to creative activists like those people that I interviewed all those years ago at Kenya who inspired Dan. People who are excited, they’ve got a spark. They’ve got something they want to do in the world. They roll up sleeves and they bloody well do it. We support people using arts and media. Art, music, dance, drama, mostly film, storytellers telling stories that needs to be told about problems that need to be solved. We started off with one wonderful young woman who wanted to go to India to teach illiterate people how to make film. She now is the head of Video Volunteers, which is the largest producer of community-based videos in India. Hundreds and hundreds of people who are essentially rickshaw drivers, maids. They are not Steven Spielberg. These are simple people who are making films about issues that really matter in a country where those stories are not being told.

FYS 015 | Sharing Our Journeys

Sharing Our Journeys: The impact of these people is a hundred million people have been touched by our stories. We make our own media.

We’ve gone on to work with hundreds and hundreds of people who pass through here and officially with about 260 people. The impact of this organization, of these people is, we’ve reckoned a hundred million people have been touched by our stories. We make our own media. We also support kids with Rock Your World, which is an educational program that uses a curriculum that’s based on the declaration of human rights. Took a deep dive into that and then they take what matters to them and create a media around it. It’s so cool. We’ve produced the feature film about Dan. It’s called The Journey is the Destination. It took 24 years to get it to this place. We premiered at the Toronto Film Festival with 2,000 people so that was just a huge excitement.

Who is the lucky guy that played Dan?

Ben Schnetzer channels Dan Eldon. Ben has been in many, many films. He is an absolutely wonderful rising young star. Maria Bello plays me. Ella Purnell plays my daughter, Amy. Ella has been in all sorts of films including Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. She is so talented. Sam Hazeldine is playing one of the journalists. We have a really beautiful cast. We shot it in South Africa with Kweku Mandela, Nelson’s grandson.

It’s a beautiful story. I want to repeat this story that you know was really amazing. We’re here in Malibu, California, the most beautiful spot you could ever imagine, right on Pacific Coast Highway overlooking the ocean. They’ve got this beautiful conference room in the middle of this office space. I was in there with yourself. I was in there with your daughter, Amy. We’re having this conversation about a lot of the things that I’m doing in my channels and whatnot, Finding Your Summit, and coming up with that and having this just really positive conversation about where this whole thing could go. We’re drinking this water from one of these glasses and all the waters were on a glass table. In the middle of all these, Amy’s glass explodes, and not just like fell over. I was on the other side of this 8-foot round table, glasses shooting over at me, on my lap, across the room, on the walls. It was crazy. We’re looking at each other like, “There’s something going on here. Some really positive energy. Dan is in the room. Wake up.” I was meant to be in that room at that time. I really believe that.

People can look at that in any way they want but it was just a really bizarre moment. Amy didn’t take her glass and crushed it. You couldn’t, even if you tried and with my strength, I couldn’t crush this glass. It’s a heavy duty and the thing literally exploded. It was just a beautiful moment. I want to repeat that because it was a unique moment for me and with all the positive energy that are here amongst the women that work at Creative Visions and all the things that we’re talking about possibilities, and where I could go and giving me hope and things like that.

It happened and look at you. This podcast is so popular. Well done.

It’s going in all the right direction. It’s such a great thing. I just read a little snippet about the project that you were either involved in or you’re involved now with Julia Roberts and Oprah.

We had a really exciting opportunity to work with Julia Roberts. I knew her through her production company and her head of production, Phil Rose, who was a dear friend of mine and his wife, Jane. We got to know Julia. Julia is an extraordinary beautiful force. She wants to do good things in the world and she is doing good things. We decided together to do a project called Extraordinary Moms. It was to look at how mothers are changing the world around them. We reached out to Hillary Clinton who said yes.

Hillary and you went to Wellesley, am I right?

Yes, we did and we’d met before. I have such utmost admiration for an extraordinary woman. We talked about glass exploding. She is amazing. Hillary Clinton, we went and interviewed together and that led us to meet President Obama, which was beyond excited. He was very taken by Julia Roberts of course. It was fun. We interviewed Christiane Amanpour who is all of our heroines, Rosie O’Donnell about the support that she’s given to foster children over the years and what it was like to be the mother of four adopted children.

We also interviewed Norma Bastidas. Norma at that time was summiting. She had summited all the top peaks in order to raise money for her son who was going to be blind. We did not know it at the time but Norma was trafficked. She was a victim of human trafficking that only came out because of her involvement with this show. Recently, we’ve done a film with her called Be Relentless, which is about Norma actually running from Mexico City to Washington to create more awareness of the whole issues around trafficking.

[Tweet “To go through life with the weight of anger, retribution weighing us down is a real shame.”]

That’s talking about overcoming adversity, right?

Yeah. She is just brilliant, wonderful. They’re communicating through iEmpathize, a wonderful curriculum that people should look up how to really deal around these issues of trafficking and how you can spot it and then what you do with people who have been through it. Our film premiered on the Oprah Winfrey Network with Oprah who we had met twice before when we were very honored to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Is this recently?

This was actually 2012. That was a while ago. It led to Hillary Clinton asking Julia Roberts to be a global spokesperson for safe cookstoves. I was very proud of that with the United Nations.

I’ve got a few more things here that you are a wonderful accomplished person on and one of those things is public speaking. I want to talk about The F Word Transform.

I thought more people would watch it like that. It’s about forgiveness.

When that first comes out of your mouth, you’re like, “What are we talking about here?” I love that word and the way you’re about to use it. I know what this means but I want you to explain it.

I think one of the most important things in life is the ‘bless and release’ concept. To go through life with the weight of anger, retribution, revenge, hatred, weighing us down is a real shame. When we can try to learn to release, and sometimes forgiveness is really, really hard, that can be just too much of a leap for people. It certainly was too much of a leap for me early on when I knew Dan had been stoned to death by a mob of Somalis. I was really angry. I understood exactly why they did it. I 100% understood.

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Sharing Our Journeys: In the Heart of Life

They were so angry at what had happened to them that they struck out and I get it, but I couldn’t really forgive. That journey to forgiveness took me many years and I talked about it in my book, In the Heart of Life, which is a memoire that I wrote. I described how I’d been back to Somalia with Amy to do our film Dying To Tell The Story. When I was there, we visited the site of where Dan had been killed and it was still a terrible place. Nothing had been restored and it was just awful debris. As we were there, women started gathering around the vehicle that we were going to leave and they started pounding on the vehicle saying, “You’re reminding us of what happened. Get out of here. Get out.” The camera men said, “We’ve got to leave now,” and so I had to run. It was scary and it also made me really mad because, “Why were these women behaving like this?” Of course, I knew because they had lost their husbands and brothers and fathers and uncles and aunt. Women and children died on that scene. I was like, “I wished they wouldn’t have done that.” We left Somalia. We flew out very quickly because we couldn’t even spend the night. It was far too dangerous.

We came back with the footage and cut the film and seven months later, we were going to have a premier at the United Nations. I remember Amy and I piled into a taxicab on our way to the United Nations. I looked in front of me and the taxi driver was clearly a Somalian. Somalis are beautiful people, very elegant people, and I knew he was a Somalian. I thought, “What am I going to do? Do I tell him? Do I not tell him?” Amy rolled her eyes and we both really didn’t know what to do and then I thought, “I’m going to tell him.” I told him to the back of his head exactly what had happened to Dan and I just told him. When we got to the United Nations and all the flags were fluttering outside, he stopped the car and he turned around and I said, “How much is it?” He said, “Friends don’t pay in this car. I know exactly what happened. I know everything about your son.” He looked at me and he had tears in his eyes and he said, “On behalf of all Somalis, I ask your forgiveness.” I was like, “What do I do? This is amazing.”

I thought ultimately Gandhi said, “We have to be the change we wish to see.” If the world is going to change, I have to change. I said, “Thank you. I understand why they did what they did and I forgive.” It was like a skylight opens in the top of your being, your soul and all that yucky stuff rushes out and there’s light that comes in. I felt lighter and lightened. I felt deeply relieved that I was able to release that. When we were on the shoot in South Africa, the people I felt closest to were the Somalis who were so tortured and persecuted not only in their own country. They run to another country like South Africa to escape from the horror of what they face in Somalia but they are there persecuted. Big lessons.

We’re talking about the F word, in this case, forgiveness. Just think about that the world would be a better place if we just all forgave each other from these wrongs that happen all the time versus all the angriness that we tend to harbor and then hold on to. It doesn’t get you anywhere and just people getting their factions. The ball does not move forward.

I love all your supporting analogies.

You’ve done seventeen books. I’m trying to get one out the door. I’ve been talking about this. I’ve got some potential co-writers that are going to help me along with this. Just the amazing amount of work it takes and you’ve got so many projects on the board with all these different wonderful artists or whatnot that have joined the Creative Visions team. The title of this book is In the Heart of Life, Kathy Eldon. There are a lot of pages there and it’s a beautiful cover by the way. Where do you find the time to do this?

That book took sixteen years. I had to live a life first. I had to live a life worth sharing and tell a story worth reading is the way I describe it. Thousands of trees died in pursuit of this particular book. It was rejected by many, many publishers over time. I think that my advice to writers is always to realize writing is rewriting. Listen to why things are rejected. Listen and do what you have to do to get to the next stage so somebody will accept it. My books are little books. There’s nothing monumental except for that one. They were written often in response to something that happened. Early on I did cookbooks and eating out guides and travel because that was my life and that was fun.

Then after Dan was killed, Amy and I were absolutely heartbroken. She was in such a bad state, then I was in a bad state. We passed it back and forth. One day she said, “Mom, I cannot go on.” She just dropped out of college and she was working in a restaurant in New York. I’m just grasping for straws, I looked around the room and I had a dream catcher hanging on the wall of my bedroom. I said, “You can write an angel catcher.” She said, “What’s that?” I said, “Get your journal and capture all the memories you have of Dan. Get everything he ever said, remember what the sound of his voice was like. Just gather it all now.” She came back Christmas with this book and she called it her Angel Catcher. We realized that it was an idea that we could actually share with others. We put together a book, which was published by Chronicle Books and it’s still on sale all these years later. It’s a guided journal. That led to Soul Catcher which is A Journal to Help You Become Who You Really Are.

We realized after about eight or nine years of doing all these books and all these films that we didn’t have the right men in our lives. We did Love Catcher and that was a journal to bring more love into your life. Actually, I materialized an extraordinary man who was living on the beach in Malibu, miracles happen. He was renting his other house to a director named Jon Turteltaub who was at that time doing National Treasure. Amy met Jon, fell in love and married him. I married Michael and we lived side by side on the beach in Malibu.

When the opportunity to move into this beautiful space right across the driveway from us came up, my husband enabled us to create the magic that’s within the space. He’s a designer, so we are so lucky. Our organization is called Creative Visions. We can create visions for ourselves. We can dream big dreams. We can envision the summit that we will climb, and we don’t do all the stuff alone. We need to hold hands with other people. Ultimately, it’s you who has to drive your way forward but we need to collaborate. We need to join hands with others. It’s so much easier if we’re sharing the journey.

FYS 015 | Sharing Our Journeys

Sharing Our Journeys: We can create visions for ourselves. We can dream big dreams. We can envision the summit that we will climb.

I’ve seen you and Amy, you’re dynamic and it really is beautiful to have a mother-daughter relationship like that. I’ve got two daughters myself, 18 and 21. They’re beautiful and we talk to each other everyday, tell each other that we love one another. It’s awesome in that perspective. To actually see you two working together, sharing your common vision together, obviously a tremendous love for the son or the brother that you lost, it’s really cool. Now, to affect others based on loss to turn that into a triumph is really a wonderful thing.

Mark, I call Dan a noisy spirit. I believe the energy does remain and that we can interact with it. I’m a journalist. I have to do films for CNN. In my experience, I feel like I could not have done any of this stuff alone. I talk about joining hands with physical beings, but I also believe that we’re surrounded by a spirit energy that we can tap into. Call it God, spirit, great spirit, whatever, Mother Earth, there’s more that we can tap into, a different energy, love and a power and energy that we can tap into.

I think you’ve said it all. I’m not looking for you to repeat these things. For anybody that’s listening to this podcast who’s going through a tough time, you’ve talked about forgiveness and you’ve talked about releasing the energy, bless and release. You’ve had so many little corps that really fit well I think with overcoming and moving forward in those. Is there any last words you want to say?

It’s a Winston Churchill. I had it on my fridge forever. It’s, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never, never. You just keep going, one step after another. You keep your eye on that summit and don’t give up.”

[Tweet “Never give in. You just keep going, one step after another. “]

I talked to my older daughter, Claudette, and I said my corny stupid thing I say everyday but it served me well in so many different ways is, “It takes a little more to make a champion.” When you break that down, it’s just like you’re going through a hard time. You’ve got to pull your bootstraps up and you’ve got to get through it and you’re going to get to the other side. Or to get to that destination, you have to work a little bit harder, do more things, lift more weights, whatever it is to get to that point. That has served me well for a long time and my kids roll their eyes but it’s really implanted on their brains. Where can people find you and Creative Visions?

KathyEldon.com, CreativeVisions.org. If you want to learn about Dan, DanEldon.org. Also for the educational program, Rock-Your-World.org. That’s just a brilliant educational program that I would love every teacher out there to jump on.

It has been a joy equally from the first couple of times I was down here, I met the energy of the room, of you, of your wonderful daughter. I really feel like I’m a better person having done this podcast and having you on this show. Thank you so much.

Honored and remember, the journey is the destination. Please enjoy the journey.

Thank you.


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