Forget doctors and lawyers. Marry a fortune-teller.

 

 

I’m a Web producer by day and a fortune-teller by night. I haven’t acquired the appropriate garb for the latter career, but even sans scarfs and patchwork skirt, I can spin a tale worthy of shelf space at Barnes & Noble. My speciality is foreseeing everything that could possibly go wrong in my life 5 minutes, 10 days or 30 years from now. I’m skilled at shifting through the sunshine and spotting the quicksand.

It’s not an especially lucrative business. In fact, it’s downright draining. After years of setting my sites on fears, I was forced to declare myself emotionally bankrupt. But I was still unprepared to take a hammer to my crystal ball. There’s something seductive about a sense of having control over your future — even if all you can seem to see are potholes.

But thanks to a loving Master Over Fate who will always have more control over my future than I do (thank Heaven — literally), I met the career counselor who is helping me use my talent for good. (He also happens to be the love of my life. Kind of handy, huh?)

Ironically, this humble hunk (I’m not exaggerating, see photo above) moonlights as a fortune-teller too. But he’s in the business of seeing a tomorrow framed by faith. His perception isn’t impeded by naivety, and his glasses are of the crystal-clear variety — not the rose-colored kind. Yes, he sees the potholes, too, but he plants flowers along the edges or focuses on how he can help life’s other travelers hop across them. As my career counselor, he’s teaching me to do the same.

Last week, we held class at 10:30 p.m. on the asphalt outside his house. Wind blew my  long blond bangs into the salty spots on my cheeks — fresh from a relapse into fear-based fortune telling. It was difficult to see through lashes laced with lumps of soggy mascara, but he put his hands firmly on my shoulders and requested that I look him in the eye. I sank into those caramel circles as he told the most beautiful fortune a girl could ever ask for:

I’m going to love you forever, he said.

There’s nothing you can do to change that. 

No matter how deep and dark a hole you find yourself in, I will be there to pull you out. 

I’ll spend every day taking care of you. We’re going to be OK. 

He’s an ace of a fortune teller, that one. Quite frankly, I think I’m ready to hang up my gold hoops and peasant blouse now. It doesn’t matter what else my crystal ball brings into focus. The good, the bad and the ugly will all surface at one point or another during the rest of our eternity together, but none of that can change how much I am loved. And, honestly, isn’t that what all our other fears are based on? The fear of losing someone’s love, or missing out on a chance to fall in love or never being able to share the love you long to give.

I’m not saying the fear dissipates when you find your true love. He won’t be a magician, after all. What I am saying is that along with olive skin, blue eyes, athletic ability and whatever else you dream of him having, don’t forget to add fortune-telling abilities to the list. Make sure he has an eye for everyday goodness. Make sure he reminds you not only of the love he is developing for you but also of the love God has always had for you.

Look for the boy who makes this his life’s theme song.

(Psst- I’m planning to post our engagement story shortly, along with a few other gems. But I wanted to get this out there right now because I want you singles to know something: The good boys exist. They really do. Don’t you dare settle for anything less. Don’t you dare go talking yourself into liking someone who won’t anchor you in his love and promise forever. You deserve nothing less.)

Show me Prince Charming pushing a wheelchair

It whispers, gushes and giggles, blushing a shade of serenity so sincere that even MAC can’t coerce it into compact form.

It curls up at the foot of an ambition-laden table set for two, basking in the glow of candles lit by the unknown and fed by youth.

It slips down Taylor Swift’s guitar strings and turns beasts into dreamboats when it falls from the cheeks of beauties named Belle.

It swims in the folds of ephemeral silk and clings to Cinderella’s gown as she glides into the arms of a magical realization: So this is love.

Love — animated and scripted versions of life tell us — is a relatively simple something that can be secured with a kiss or the slaying of a dragon or a glass slipper.

“The end.”

Wrong.

Whose bright idea was it to leave giddy 10-year-old girls sucking on Sour Patch Kids and carelessly swinging their Sketchers over the sticky floor with the impression that this is the definition of love?

The credits roll, and all you have left to go on for the next 10 years is a canker sore and a conviction that merely finding your man equals martial bliss.

What I’ve learned in the time since those starry-eyed, big-screen days is that while love can be all those warm, wispy things, “the end” of those love stories was really just the beginning.

Those scenes were merely eternal adoration in embryo.

We can continue to consume the frosted flakes of fairytales, but let’s not forget the staying power of life’s later years — the span where love lacks sugarcoating but offers more emotional nutrition than the fairytale flakes ever could.

If we’re going to tell a love story, let’s include the part where Cinderella’s frail, wizened frame swims in the gown that once cradled her curves. When she loses her tan leather slipper — the one that never did match the blue pump she put on her left foot this morning — because her mind has sealed the box where she once kept hiding places and color wheels and her children’s names — and even her own name.

When she won’t remember the face of the prince who stoops slowly to replace the shoe he retrieved from under the kitchen sink. When he helps her into her wheelchair because even if her slender legs had the strength to walk, they wouldn’t be able to wonder a block from her castle without getting lost.

And when we tell this tale, let’s emphasize the fact that even as Prince Charming wipes away the mint toothpaste Cinderella thought would hold her hair like Suave, he does so gently, never chiding her for unwitting childlike choices. He cares for the body that bore their children, the hands that served Sunday dinner promptly at 6 and the spirit he cemented himself to 50 years ago.

Show me Prince Charming pushing the wheelchair of a Cinderella who can no longer string together the parts of speech necessary to say, “Thank you.”

Then show me Cinderella seated before that big screen in the sky. You know, the one that displays montages of the most important scenes from our mortal lives. Show me that moment when she watches, for the first time, the way Prince Charming poured her glasses of milk, picked out her clothing, blow-dried her hair and cradled her hand for all those years while her body sat beside him but her spirit couldn’t respond.

There, in that sweet spot in Heaven reserved for her royal soul, she will walk in on something she thought she understood decades ago on the ballroom floor. Something she didn’t have the capacity to understand then. Something Hollywood left on the cutting-room floor:

So this is love.

Consider 2012 a success if …

Forget the Gold’s Gym membership dangling between your fro-yo frequent-buyer card and keys to your safe stuffed with Twinkies.

Ignore the pile of unopened mail and undone to-do lists perched precariously on your kitchen counter.

Don’t fret over the Rosetta Stone software intended to teach you French that is now serving as a coffee table coaster.

Toss those moldy spears of asparagus and soggy scraps of spinach. (Go buy yourself a V8 Splash. Same thing, right?)

Don’t stress about the fact that you never had time to get your stress levels in check.

It’s tempting to dwell on all you didn’t do this year, don’t you think? It’s easy to flip through plump planner pages and get stuck in a sticky emptiness. It’s frustrating to think about the boxes that went unchecked and the 25 forgotten items in your RE.minder app.

But don’t.

I started my morning worrying about what I wished had happened in 2012, but then I read a brilliant blog post from Lisa-Jo Baker. The premise of her perfect post is that if you felt loved this year, you can declare 2012 a success — and I completely agree.

Remember how someone touched your elbow and asked if you were OK?

Remember how Grandpa planted a kiss on your forehead and said he was praying for you?

Remember the construction paper Valentine from your little brother?

Remember the protective embrace of a best friend after that breakup?

Remember the tiny moments that were actually monumental miracles sent to show you just how much God loves you?

To Lisa-Jo’s point, I would add that you can also consider this year a success if you, having recognized the hand of a higher power in your life, extended love to those around you.

Did you throw your fear of abandonment back in the river and let it float by alongside inadequacy, so you could love with abandon?

Did you find a way to let someone know you cared, that his or her happiness meant more to you than your own? (If you’re a mother, shout “YES!”)

If you saw and shared love this year, celebrate. Close out the day with peace, knowing that you experienced the most exhilarating adventure, checked off the most important to-do and made an indelible mark.

My fairy godmother wears khakis

Even if you’ve shelved “once upon a time” next to fanny packs and pleather. Even if talk of true love’s kiss is harder to swallow than soggy Cheerios. Even if “happily ever after” is as difficult to wrap your mind around as Sunday’s Sudoku puzzle.

Even if all of that applies to you, go with me here while I restore your faith in at least one facet of fairy tales.

(Please leave your skepticism next to your shoes and Ariel-hair envy at the door.)

Are you ready to embrace the most magical message of Cinderella’s story? Sure, the talking mice are endearing. (Remember Gus Gus? Cue collective, “Aw.”)  The glass slipper isn’t too shabby. And who doesn’t dream of waltzing to “So This is Love”?

But what you may have missed in the midst of all that tulle and talk of pumpkins is the internal transformation that takes place in Cinderella right before the “bibbity, bobbity, boo.”

As Ella sobs to the familiar strains of self-pity — “There’s nothing left to believe in” — her fairy godmother materializes and performs an act far more significant than supplying dazzling duds and vegetable transportation.

She reminds Cinderella of the characteristics that truly matter in the quest for Prince Charming: faith and an understanding that miracles take time.

Fairy godmothers restore our confidence and brush off dusty dreams. They tell us we deserve more. We are remembered. We matter.

Last week, I found paragraphs and pages full of fairy godmothers in my own meandering story. Most often, they were wearing khakis and striped button downs or navy TOMS and boot-cut jeans. They held tumbler cups full of Coke in place of wands. They found me through texts and two-hour girl talk.

If you’re having a hard time spotting these characters in your tale, here are some telling signs that you’ve stumbled across a minister of magic.

Fairy godmothers might look like …

A grocery store clerk who flirts with you at 6 p.m. in the express lane when your eyeliner is smeared and your shoulders slumped. He forces a smile onto those lips cracked by worry and what ifs.

Two co-workers in slacks who get down on the garage floor of P2. They remove the 6-inch nail from your tire, slip on a spare and let the air out of the panic.

A best friend who chides you for losing sight of your sparkly self. (Yes, reprimanding falls within the job description.) After pointing out the stains of cynicism and fear, she helps you pin the sequins back on. You’re better than those stains. She knows it.

A roommate who slides up next to you while you sweep a rag across the bathroom floor on a Saturday morning. As Tilex, Windex and other x-ending chemicals work their (likely toxic) magic around you, she takes a gentle, compassion-based bottle of “you go, girl” to your insecurities.

The man one desk down with rust-colored scruff on his chin and a vanilla-caramel coffee in his hand who compliments your I-haven’t-washed-my-hair-in-three-days updo. As a father of daughters, he recognizes the finesse required to position those bobby pins. He’ll smile knowingly when you say you got the idea from Pinterest.

A company manager who leaves a free hot chocolate coupon on your desk. He knows how much you love that sweet liquid security. When you thank him, he will say, “You’re a gem of a person,” and that will solve more of life’s problems than 600 creamy calories in a Styrofoam cup ever could.

Your fairy godmothers may look like that, or they may wear completely different robes. I can’t say for sure.

I can promise, though, that if you’re paying attention, you’ll realize you’re surrounded by people who will wrap you up in compliments and tell you that you can do hard things. They will turn your rags of doubt into something soft and flattering.

These people play a crucial role in helping us become the confident individuals Prince Charming is seeking.

Don’t strain for the whisper of wings. You won’t find your fairy godmother there. Look for the stranger, the neighbor, the sister, the busboy.

They see your potential, and they’ll help you see it, too.