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This article by Jamie Saxon was prepared for the May 5, 2004

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Look Homeward: Recasting the Movie Called Your Life

It seems only fitting that Maureen Chatfield, owner of M. Chatfield – which bills itself as "social agents for busy people" – titled her upcoming singles workshop "This Movie Called Life," to be held Saturday, May 15, at Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club, Bedminster, from 1 to 4 p.m. Chatfield, who grew up in New York, the daughter of an engineer and a secretary, studied acting at HB Studios in the city, but declined her first movie role because it required a nude scene. "My possessive Greek father would have killed me," she says.

In her New York days, Chatfield ran with the acting crowd, which included Al Pacino and Richard Gere – she even met Tennessee Williams. As a Ford model, she was a spokesperson for Warner Lambert, Bristol Myers, and Avon. But when she and her restaurateur husband split up in 1990, after having two kids and moving out to horse country in Tewksbury, New Jersey, Chatfield no longer had the big city soirees at which to meet men. "For the first time in my life I realized it’s impossible meeting people outside the city." Sound familiar?

"If you’re single in the suburbs, you’re seen as a threat," she says. "And nobody has cocktail parties." Disenchanted with the singles ads in the local paper, Chatfield visited a dating service, but took the literature and ran. "I was horrified." In a stunning display of moxie, she called the Hunterdon Review, invited a reporter to hear the story of the new agency she was going to start – and the story landed on the front page.

Fast forward 12 years. "We are not matchmakers. We represent very intelligent people who would attract people – if they could find them," says Chatfield. "But where is this great pool? We’re in the country. We’re spread out." Today, Chatfield represents more than 1,200 sophisticated, high-end, well-educated clients.

"This Movie Called Life" is designed to help singles consciously direct their own personal blockbuster. Chatfield acknowledges that relationships are tricky business. "In school, do they ever ask you how your parents got along? We all need to figure out the roles we play and make peace with them and know that there are certain qualities we are always going to bring forward in a relationship, just as our mate will. The movie analogy removes the process one step, makes it simpler."

Chatfield’s co-presenter at the workshop, Dr. Pelli Wheaton – an author and licensed counselor in Stockton – directs writing exercises, for example, that focus on identifying what actor would play your father or mother and why. Chatfield says one client she had said her father was like Spencer Tracy, her mother like Katherine Hepburn. "She was Mary Tyler Moore, always trying to be the good girl to please her father," says Chatfield. "Then she tended to do that in her relationships. She never got to be feminine and let someone take care of her."

The workshop offers tools to help you acknowledge tendencies that are counter-productive in relationships and stop them. "Through writing and discussion, the movie set is cleared and the new scriptwriter come in," says Chatfield. "That’s when you can create the new leading lady with your new leading man."

The workshop also looks at what Chatfield calls "reruns." "That’s when you’ve been in a few relationships and you’ve heard them say the same thing a couple of times, like you’re stubborn – or a control freak. Then you figure out how the relationship got sour."

At $100, the workshop is not cheap (a portion of the proceeds goes to New Jersey’s Division of Youth and Family Services). However, Chatfield points out, "there’s a doctor here (Dr. Wheaton) and doctors get $100 an hour generally. Even though the room is full, you’re alone with that doctor. We’re giving years of very valuable information. You’ll be able to leave with concrete tools to change the patterns in your life and get clear about what you really want and need."

Chatfield herself used writing exercises presented in the workshop – and she’s getting married on June 26. "I wrote that I envisioned this person who was very powerful and strong, with dark curly hair – and a black BMW." Of her fiance, Donald – who is six foot three with dark curly hair – she says, "He came to me as a client and said he was looking for a woman under 40 with no children. I’m 45 and have two children. I could tell there was an attraction at our first meeting. He ran out of the office." Three months later, he invited her to his ski house in Vermont. "He drove up in a black BMW."

– Jamie Saxon

This Movie Called Life, Maureen Chatfield and Dr. Pelli Wheaton, Fiddlers Elbow Country Club, Bedminster, Saturday, May 15, 1 to 4 p.m. $100. Includes refreshments. For reservations call 800-360-0364.

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