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From the heart

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. -- What is love? According to Elizabeth O'Carroll, it can include the love between a mother and a child or the admiration a basketball player has for a coach. It could be the feelings two lovers share, or it may be the kindness ...

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Red heart in child and mother's hands

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. - What is love?

According to Elizabeth O'Carroll, it can include the love between a mother and a child or the admiration a basketball player has for a coach. It could be the feelings two lovers share, or it may be the kindness someone offers to a complete stranger.

The forms of love seem limitless, and the vocational rehabilitation counselor for the Lake Region Human Service Center plans to capture the meaning of love through a documentary series that will feature the self-told stories of North Dakotans, with the hope an online streaming service such as Netflix or Hulu will air it.

"Why not raise the positivity and that consciousness of love through our triumphs, through our inspirations, through what we are passionate about?" she asked. "We hear that story, and it stirs something in us. ... It helps to heal our souls."

O'Carroll has teamed up with Casey Paradies, an English and drama professor and director at Lake Region State College, to create "Love Suppose-ium," as O'Carroll calls the series. The series is part of her project called "Suppose Love Is," which she will use to obtain her dual doctorates in relationship dynamics and spiritual ministry from the University of Arizona in Sedona.

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The first part of the documentary series, "Lakeshore Memoirs," will focus on interviews of people living in North Dakota as they describe their experiences with love. She will start with hosting group sessions from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and Dec. 2 in the Lake Region State College Heritage Room in Devils Lake. There, people can express their thoughts on the subject in a natural way. Participants also can tell their stories one on one.

In the second part, O'Carroll will have actors perform the stories of those interviewed. She's unsure of the format the series will take, but she hopes it unfolds organically in a way that gets others involved.

"Sometimes when you see your story acted out, you view it from a different perspective," she said. "Maybe that is the piece you needed to move on."

An excerpt of the "Lakeshore Memoir" will be submitted to Script Pipeline's Great Movie Idea Contest and Withoutabox. The winner will be connected to film producers, including Lakeshore Entertainment, an independent film company that has its name on a long list of well-known films, including "Runaway Bride," "Underworld" and "The Age of Adaline."

Inspiration

A near-death experience in 1997 inspired O'Carroll's project, she said. She described an out-of-body experience in which she said she saw a nursing student trying to resuscitate her. She also said she saw "a review" of her life and saw what her children's lives would look like if she didn't go back. She was given a choice to go back to her body or stay, adding she didn't want to miss her children's lives.

"What I learned from that experience is the most important thing we will ever do here on this planet Earth, regardless of whatever everyone else thinks, it's the human relationships we have with each other, the imprints we leave on each other's souls," she said. "If we dress everything in love, we are going to be coming from a better place."

She also pulled the idea from "Humans of New York," a book featuring the stories of people in New York. With the violence in today's world and the advancement of technology, especially with texting and social media, it appears people have forgotten how to communicate with each other, O'Carroll said. She wants people to share those human experiences, and she said she hopes her project will inspire others to express their love to each other and connect in a nonjudgmental, nonthreatening way.

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"It's almost like that elixir we need to help bring us through all of the things everyone is dealing with in our daily lives," she said. "It's a chance to really step outside of your crazy life and tap into what is really important, and that is the imprint we leave on each other's souls before we leave this world."

She hopes to travel to Grand Forks, Fargo, Bismarck and other cities to emulate her project. If it catches on with Hulu or Netflix customers, it could spread into Minnesota.

Elizabeth O'Carroll
Elizabeth O'Carroll

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