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S E C T I O N People 2 April 27, 2011 ■ ALSO INSIDE Stories about people in the community. A RO U N D T O W N 2 4 | C A L E N DA R 2 6 | R E A L E S TAT E 2 8 | C L A S S I F I E D S 3 3 How tragedy transformed a life Menlo Park woman, seriously injured in a truck accident, is featured in a new documentary film By Miranda Simon Special to the Almanac M elissa Moody squints as she stares out toward the water at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, against a backdrop of gray. This is where she married Hap Wotila. But she isn’t thinking about her wedding — she’s thinking about how lucky she is to still be alive. “This is fun. I haven’t stood out in the rain for a while,” she says, turning to the lens. The camera is photographing a scene from a new 78-minute documentary on the nature of happiness by filmmaker Roko Belic, who traveled to 14 countries, collecting narratives of happiness and depression, in a four-year endeavor. Those who have seen the documentary say the story of this Menlo Park resident is among the most powerful, Mr. Belic says. Ms. Moody, a mother of three, was trampled by a truck when visiting relatives in the Texas countryside in July 1992. The accident left her face completely disfigured. She underwent 30 reconstructive surgeries. “When I met Melissa, I knew she had experienced something that was traumatic, and the way she dealt with it was completely different than what I would have expected,” says Mr. Belic, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his directorial debut, “Genghis Blues,” in 1999. According to social scientists interviewed in the film, those who endure hardships recover more quickly than we expect and may even be happier because of a traumatic event — especially if they tended to be happy before it occurred. One of the main ingredients for happiness, the sociologists and psychologists say, is having meaningful relationships. Although she is happy today, Ms. Moody, now 59, went through many very difficult years. She said her family and friends helped her get through the depression caused by the accident. “I’ve always been a gregarious person. I always had a core group of friends” to help me through, she says. “I didn’t let (the accident) stop me (from going out). It wasn’t my fault so why would I let that stop me?” In the film, Mr. Belic shows her giving a massage to a client at San Francisco’s School for Self-Healing, where she is the director of education and development. She was treated there in 1999 for her vision impairment caused by the accident, and she stayed on as a volunteer and later joined the staff. Then the film takes us to the scene of the accident. We see her treading over a muddy road in Texas, pointing to where she was having an argument with her See MELISSA, page 23 TOP: Melissa Moody, a therapist in Menlo Park and at the School for Self-Healing in San Francisco, uses the technique of palming to bring deep relaxation to the optic nerve and visual system of a patient. Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac. At the left are photos taken before and after the accident. On the cover: Melissa Moody with one her patients at the School for Self-Healing. Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac. April 27, 2011 N The Almanac N21

The Almanac 04.27.2011 - Section 2

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