All posts in Gratitude

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.

Embracing the beauty of the season

I adore autumn.

Yesterday I decided to embrace all of its crispy, comforting goodness by treating myself to a bag of apples and a bottle of Spiced Pumpkin soap.

As I headed home, I felt the pull of the hills set ablaze with fall’s foliage. According to my iCalendar, I didn’t have time to take a detour. I should have merged onto the freeway, if I knew what was good for my schedule. But my weary mind pleaded and pulled me up the back roads toward the trees.

I turned off my radio, rolled down my windows and breathed in the beauty.

That 15-minute drive through the cinnamon-speckled hills restored sanity to my soul.

Although this was an undeniably enjoyable encounter, there was a time when my adoration for autumn was not so strong. I resented the oncoming cold for making me pull out my coat. I feared the arrival of the first icy snow. At some unidentifiable point, I realized that the cold and the snow would come regardless of how I felt. I could choose to waste my autumn days focusing on the baren weeks ahead, or I could revel in the harvest of honey hues, spiced cider and cable-knit sweaters.

At some unidentifiable point, I decided to take the latter path. Now, I try to sit down and have a heart-to-heart with each season, instead of shoving it out the door.

My recent embrace with fall got me thinking about not just nature’s seasons but life’s seasons.

This current single, twenty-something season of my life can sometimes feel like the ominous autumn I used to dislike. Barrels overflowing with blessings surround me, but, too often, my mind jumps ahead to the fear of a wintery future. I worry that the upcoming seasons of my life may leave me feeling baren and lonely.

I hope this won’t be the case, but, even it is, how foolish it would be for me to be blinded to the beauty of this season by fear of what another season may bring.

I have incredible friends and family members. I have a career that challenges me and gives me purpose. I live in a safe home. I have opportunities to accomplish my goals. I know I am cared for.

I have more than I deserve.

Instead of wishing for a change of seasons or fearing what may or may not be on the horizon, I’m going to embrace the here and now. I’m going to take a moment to turn off the insecurity, open the door to my heart and recognize the beauty of this season.

‘Everything is Incredible’

The media industry can be a tricky place to hang your career hat.

Too often, my Flipboard feeds are filled with stories of despair and disappointment — and I have to read them. It’s my job.

Sometimes, though, I get to share triumphs and tales of optimistic persistence, and, lucky me, today was one of those days.

This Vimeo video of a man with an impossible dream has gone viral, and for good reason. Something about the courage of someone who has nothing but believes he can accomplish anything is undeniably appealing.

Tyler Bastian, who produced the film, met Agustin in Honduras while he was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Agustin has spent the past 54 years building a helicopter out of trash.

This is his dream, and, despite the ridicule and raised eyebrows, he continues to dust off discarded soda cans and string and make something spectacular.

As I watched this video, I felt rebuked for my own hesitancy when it comes to pursuing my dreams.

“I don’t have enough money.”

“I don’t have the right skills.”

“What if no one appreciates my work?”

Agustin taught me that those excuses just don’t fly (pun intended). The problem is not lack of money or talents — or even success by anyone else’s standards, according to Agustin.

“The problem is that everything is incredible and people don’t accept it,” he says.

Amen, Agustin. Nothing is impossible if you believe everything is incredible.