Landenberg woman’s dream: Her life’s transformation captured on film
By J. Chambless
Flora Zanfrisco holds camera equipment, including a drone that she uses in making her videos for her production company, Freedom Films.
By NATALIE SMITH
To them, misfortune can become an unwelcome but wearily familiar foe, pummeling their spirit and will. If tragedies start in childhood, the trauma might lead to a self-fulfilling cycle of bad choices making bad things happen, resulting in more bad choices.
But things can change. And it’s because of the tremendous changes in Flora Zanfrisco’s life that she dreams a film will be made about her experiences.
“I had depression. Anxiety. I had diabetes. I had agoraphobia,” she said. “I didn't come out of my house for about a year. Because of my job -- I was a database administrator -- I was able to work at home, so that enabled me to continue to be agoraphobic. That, along with family members doing things for me when I needed groceries or whatever.” Zanfrisco’s twin daughters were about 6 at the time.
Zanfrisco was born in Italy. Her family came to the United States when she was about 9 months old and settled in South Philadelphia. In talking about her childhood, the Landenberg resident with an easy laugh and a head of barely contained dark curls is matter-of-fact.
“When I was 7 years old, I was molested by a female neighbor,” Zanfrisco said. “I was told not to tell anyone. So I didn’t. And then, when I was about 11, I was jumped and beaten for no reason by two ‘troubled’ kids,” she said.
Nor was Zanfrisco a favorite of the teachers in her Catholic school, although she didn’t understand why. “Teachers were very mean to me. They would embarrass me in front of the class,” she said. “But no matter what I told my parents, they didn’t believe me.”
The troubled young girl dealt with her pain the best way she knew how. “When I was 12, I actually started doing cocaine and drinking, just because of the anxiety. I didn’t realize what I was doing. I just thought I was having fun, but I realize what it was now,” she said.
At 16, another assault: Zanfrisco was date-raped. “After the rape, I just became promiscuous. Men or women, I didn’t care,” she said.
As an adult, she later developed agoraphobia, a symptom of which can be an irrational fear of public spaces. “I was scared of people, I was scared of places. I was scared of everything,” Zanfrisco said.
“It ended up where I was at my office, making 100 grand a year. I would walk into the office, walk into a meeting, and I would just freeze. I couldn't move. I would just turn around and walk out, even if I had something to say.
“My boss said, 'Listen, just work at home.' So I was at home for a full year, not doing anything except being in the house. I would drive some places, but I always had this fear that someone was following me, that someone wanted to attack me. With my kids in the house, I was always bubbly and having fun with them. But with anyone else, forget it.”
Things finally came to a head.
“This one night, somebody came and rang my doorbell. I was in my [home] office and my kids were watching TV, playing,” Zanfrisco recalled. “The fear that came over me because my doorbell rang. I had no idea who it was or why was somebody ringing my doorbell. I go and grab my kids from the other room, and I say, 'Come on, let’s get under my desk.' Then the doorbell rings again and that brought more panic to me. I felt like I came out of my body. I could see me and the kids under my desk. The look they gave me … it was a look no mother wants to see from their kids.
“'Wow. How did I get here?’ That question I remember coming from my heart. I didn’t say it. I remember thinking it,” she said.
Right after Zanfrisco posed the question to the universe, a business card fell off her desk. It was the card of a therapist that a friend gave her. The next day, she called the therapist who was able to see her that day.
As she talked about her past, the female therapist was very “hands-on,” Zanfrisco said. “I didn’t understand what she was doing. Later I found out she was also a shaman [a priestess who channels energies].”
Zanfrisco went home and later went to sleep. The next morning, things were different.
After compulsively coloring in one of her girls’ coloring books to hearing a song on TV that started eight hours of her dancing through the house, Zanfrisco felt like a new woman.
Then the answers started coming.
“I would have questions in my head, and then the answer was there,” she said. “Whether it would be a commercial on TV, or someone would call me on the phone in that minute and answer whatever question I had in my head, or driving and seeing a sign that would answer that question. The first couple times I would go, ‘What a coincidence.' Then there was a point when I realized, ‘This is not a coincidence.'”
Seven days a week for three months, the answers just came. During this time, Zanfrisco became a vegan and eventually ended up losing 60 pounds, “just because I wasn’t staying still.”
She also quit her job.
“I went back to work, but after all the experiences I was having during those three months, I thought there was no way I could just sit at that desk,” she said. “I need to tell people what is happening to me. I need to tell my story. Creating databases was so meaningless to me at this point.”
For Zanfrisco, chasing after money is not how she wants to live, but not everyone understands her behavior.
“I lost friends and family members. Everyone just thought I was crazy. But it's OK, because I've gained the most amazing friends,” she said. “When you truly do follow your heart, and follow just being loving and compassionate toward people, your whole life changes. And everything comes to you.”
The whole experience, Zanfrisco said, has made her more open and loving toward everyone. She became a videographer and started her own production company, Freedom Films. Many of her videos illustrate the joy and unconditional love she’s feeling.
“I love editing. I love making videos. I love showcasing people's talents,” she said. “I enjoy meeting all these different types of people.”
But her ultimate dream is to have a large-scale movie made about her experiences. “It's not about fame. It’s just the message I want to get to people. [For them] to realize there is so much more, and the potential that everyone has just by shifting their consciousness.
“It's the messages. From being molested, to being raped, to being a drug addict to being bisexual to having all these different types of relationships, to having this amazing experience. And to changing from agoraphobic to where I'm at now,” she said. “The messages -- spirituality or whatever you want to call it. I don’t even like to say God, because that brings religion into it. God is consciousness to me.”
Her absolute certainty in the inevitability of the film has given her a life’s purpose, Zanfrisco said. “I don't know how the universe is going to give it to me, it doesn't say. It does tell me to keep going and keep flowing. That's how I can be so sure this movie will be made, because of the experiences I've had. So I know. I just don't know when.”
She’s hoping her now-teenage children will learn by example.
“The way I see it, I'm teaching my kids to follow their heart and not money,” she said. “I'm teaching my kids to follow their dreams, to not think they have to get a job, they have to get married, they have to have a house with a picket fence and a dog. Unless they want those things.
“No dream is too big. If you can dream it, you can do it.”