Disney

A “Life is Beautiful” Friend

I was invited to a ladies lunch this past weekend. The invite called together women to celebrate, with gratitude, for showing up for the hostess during a difficult season in her life. She welcomed fifteen or so of us into a small cafe for a meal and connection with strangers. I was nervous to go. Not being one for meeting new people, I coaxed myself into going out, tucked my messy hair into a bun, and drove to the luncheon.

Before we shared a meal, the hostess went around the room introducing each of her guests with a heartfelt message about how they were able to care for her as she cared for her mom, who was losing the battle of dementia. In her thoughtful reflection, she called me her, “life is beautiful” friend, and was grateful for my keen understanding of the pain we go through as humans. She shared that I reminded her, in a time of darkness, perhaps, grief is part of the beauty too.

I felt seen, in that room of strangers, in a way I haven’t for quite awhile. There’s a magic that happens when strangers become vulnerable and when the threads of loss and life and the mess of the middle connect us. By the time she went around the circle, the hostess’ friends were weeping. To be seen, to be a part of the struggle, to value friendship, surrender, and the power of asking for and receiving help is just such a gift. I was floored by the intentionality in celebrating relationship and in saying thank you for the people who carry you through.

A few weeks ago, I found myself home sick. Holding my baby, we watched Mary Poppins as we both recovered from a first family bout of a stomach flu. An infant’s attention span is short. Mary Poppins is long. But I tried to introduce her to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and dancing penguins and stepping in time on the rooftops of London.

I found myself asking where did this desire for good stem from? Where did the grown woman who longs for beautiful things develop her keen awareness for the power of a change of perspective? Mary taught me to turn ordinary into magic. To seek delightful things and to harness the giggles found in the absurd. Harriet the Spy taught me to watch and look just a little bit longer, for humans have complex layers and we probably ought to write about them. And, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle taught me you can have a chandelier on your floor for a fire place and stairs that work in reverse. Pippy Longstocking reminded me to befriend the imaginary creatures and dress as your heart leads you and go on adventures, even in your backyard. Characters who were close to home, willing to observe, and make note of the magic burrowed into my heart, and my way of being in the world.

I’m thankful for the stories that turned me into a seeker of good and a believer in magical things. And I’m grateful, for the women who continue to nurture me in this lifelong pursuit. To be called out as a “life is beautiful” friend stunned me a bit. Yes, the searching is in my essence. And in these virtual pages my journey continues. Thank you, readers, for being my life is beautiful friends, as well.

“Have Courage and Be Kind”

I don’t remember being totally immersed into Disney’s Princess culture as a little girl. I think I had a Belle Halloween costume, and certainly watched the movies, but my favorite Disney Princess was Pocahontas. I had the sheets, the pillows, the outfit, the accessories. This princess’ connection with nature and rebellious efforts to stand up for her own self were more appealing to me. Hey, fighting for the right to protect who you love is something to stand for, analysis of feminism and colonialism aside.

The only instance I remember of dressing up like a princess was at my fifth or sixth birthday party. We invited the traveling princess lady to come who brought beautiful dresses, and jewels, and would do you and your friends hair and make up to turn you into a vision of a royal lady. My friends had first pick of the dresses. When it was my turn all the proper ensembles had been chosen. I was so mad I locked myself into the bathroom until someone forced me out. Some hostess, some princess I was.

I minored in Women’s Studies, I proclaim feminist views, and still banter with the best of them about the valuable role women play in society and the challenges we face in almost every arena for equal rights and respect for our femininity. However, this week, I watched a movie that made me want to embrace everything amazing about the fairy tale story. I went to see Cinderella with my mom. I haven’t been so giddy since I was six years old, imagining what my princess birthday party could have been like. Needless to say, I loved the film.

This movie is so beautiful. The costumes, the quirky animal characters, the twist on the common tale are absolutely enchanting. I wanted to go home and put on my wedding dress and dance around the room, inviting the little creatures that live in our backyard into our house to play. The sparkles, the glamour, the hope of a better life. There is a sensitivity written into the character of Cinderella that embraces compassion, acceptance, self reverence in light of challenges, and I just wanted to be friends with her. Laugh if you may, but this portrayal was so much more dynamic than the average fairy tale. It takes a lot to get rescued by another person; even more to to be aware of your own choices and how they impact the lives of those around you as you make changes for your own self betterment.

Plus, who doesn’t love Helena Bonham Carter. Can you imagine what it would be like for her to be your Fairy Godmother?

Cinderella’s mother starts off the film by saying, “I want to tell you a secret that will see you through all of the trials that life can give you. Have courage, and be kind.” I’m tucking this nugget of wisdom away, because there exists power in that perspective. I place┬áthose words in my heart, and ask myself, in what ways am I living that beautiful mantra today?

Can someone please find me a dress like that to wear? If you watch the movie, let me know when you come across the line, “I can’t drive. I’m a goose!”

Biscotti: None

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