It took several brushes with death before I was scared enough to take a hard look at my life. Up until then, my focus was on the prosperous business I had built. Somewhere in the “doing” of life, I lost the reason for living it. A real estate career that nourished my soul from helping others navigate the complicated arena of home buying and selling became more about my desire to be the “best” than helping others. My drive to achieve my goals validated my status but separated me from myself because I identified with success. Anyone on the outside looking in did not understand why I walked away from everything I had accomplished. At the time I wasn’t sure either, but deep down I knew I didn’t have a choice. Change is never easy. The transition to a documentary filmmaker, author, and speaker was a journey laden with challenges, but I have never looked back with regret. When I do look back, I am astonished at how all the pieces of my past paved the way for a life better than I could have planned.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Sofia. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My life has never been a smooth road because I have never been one to accept limitations or the status quo. Because I learn best through experience, I always have challenged the borders that surround civilized life, questioning everything. When I left real estate, I went on a search to understand life and myself with the same zeal that I put into my career. I studied many personal growth and spiritual modalities. On a quest to search for truth, I found out there is no absolute truth. I discovered that truth is an individual equation of our experiences calculated by what we extract from making those experiences personal. That discovery is the motivation and inspiration behind what I do today. The topics I use for my films, book, and speaking engagements are layered in meaning and breadth. My intention is for the viewers to come away thinking differently about their life, not just one aspect, but introspective about the whole of who they are. When we think deeply about who we are, we add more meaning to our lives.
Sofia Wellman – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a filmmaker, author, and speaker. While I travel the country for my work, my home base is Atlanta. My most recent works are the film, “Death as Life,” and the book, “If the Shoe Fits, Go Barefoot.” My newest film, “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” is not yet released while it makes the film festival circuit, winning numerous awards.
All four of my grandparents came to America from Greece. Since I was a child, I felt different. Perhaps it was because we were different. Our culture was laced in traditions that didn’t fit the masses. Oddly, my family tried to fit in, while they indulged in Greek tradition and superstitions that skimmed the American way. My curiosity about others had roots from observing what it was like to be somebody else. Eventually, I discovered that we are all uniquely different. Where we are alike is we grapple with being human. When I interview someone famous, I am reminded of and humbled by our humanness.
I interview someone to gather what that person is known for — what they have contributed to the world. Still, I get the back-story. I think it is for me, but it is what enables me to capture an interview that reveals the person’s soul. Because of my sincere fascination and love for people, I weave a web of safety. When someone feels seen, an intimate exchange is created. Intimately interviewing is natural to me, but in my daily life intimacy is not. During an interview, I have an intense exchange with a resolve. In life, intimacy is ebb and flow. An interview is a rare moment across space and time where I am in sync.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
When I built a successful real estate business, and anything I wanted was within arm’s reach, I thought that outer success saved a seat for me in the big world. I figured I found my purpose. That’s when life was all too happy to put the spotlight back on the fact that I hadn’t a clue about its meaning, much less my purpose. Today, my definition of success is not outer motivated. Yes, it is great to make money, to be known for your work, and to be a frontrunner in your field. But that is only a fraction of success.
Usually, when we are focused on outer success, we are in a looped pattern where life is trying to get our attention to connect within. The repetitive pattern is not what typically gets our attention, but the pain that tails the pattern makes us take a closer look at our life. Success for me now means my life feels like it is in harmony. It is not a constant, more like a notch up on the gradation of feeling like everything is flowing versus being in a struggle.