**I shared with the employees at the Whitman group this morning. What a lovely company!
This story was the heart of my message…
Once upon a time, a few decades ago and in a land not so far away, there lived a young girl who read voraciously. She lost herself in the pages of adventure and intrigue. Battles, real or imagined, were fought and good always won over evil. The hero never failed to save the day as well as the damsel in distress.
The girl read them all. She climbed Jack’s beanstalk and danced with the twelve dancing princesses. She felt for the ugly duckling and she cheered when Hansel and Gretel escaped. She sighed when the cinder girl won the heart of the prince.
Any chance she got, the girl would steal away for far off adventures. In her imagination, she would be the hero or the damsel. She would battle evil and be victorious or allow herself to be rescued by the brave and mighty one. For a few minutes, she would live the fairytale…only to close the book until the next time.
As she grew up, the stories changed. No longer content with fairytales by The Brother’s Grimm or rhymes by Mother Goose, she graduated herself to novels of many kinds. Though her life was good and she was happy, the girl dreamed of her own “once upon a time.” She pined for her own “happily ever after.
Life moved her beyond the familiar walls of her family’s home. She had her own house and lived her own adventure. She worked five days a week to finance her sleek sports car. She was young and beautiful and wanted for nothing. However, she was always seeking for her one moment… her own once upon a time.
Eventually, Prince Charming found her and swept her off her feet. She floated through her days knowing she was loved and cherished as she planned her perfect wedding.
“Surely, this will be my once upon a time,” she thought, as she woke to a beautiful spring day. “Today I will marry Prince Charming and we will live happily ever after.”
The wedding was lovely and the bride was beautiful. The groom beamed and the guests cheered. The day was as close to perfect as it could be and the girl was happy.
The couple adventured to the mountains and the snow and then back home again. All the while, madly in love. The girl was living her dream.
It was when they returned to life, and jobs, and schedules that the girl pined for her once upon a time again. She had tasted the joy of living in the moment during the days and weeks of planning her wedding. She had felt the thrill of the adventure of once upon a time in the mountains with her prince. Once upon a time tasted sweeter than she ever imagined and she desperately wanted it again.
The girl planned and dreamed for a prince or princess of her own. She thought of names and nursery color schemes all while anxiously waiting. She yearned for the once upon a time of motherhood. She cried and cajoled and pleaded and never waited patiently. Two years later, they laid her small prince in her arms. She was now a mother girl with tears of joy. Her once upon a time had arrived and she and her small prince would live happily ever after.
That sweet little prince turned her world upside down and inside out. Often they both cried, neither knowing what to do with the other. That little baby prince was sick and in the hospital a few times and the girl thought, “this is definitely not happily ever after!”
In time, the girl, her Prince Charming, and their small prince found their own rhythm and rhyme as a family of three. The days were sometimes long and hard and other times short and sweet. The girl was happy and in love with her two princes. For a while, it was enough.
Soon, the little family of three became a family of four when a sweet, good-natured, princesses joined the clan. “A perfect family,” they had been told, “a boy and a girl, what more could you ask for?” they were asked.
“Ah, a little girl made of sugar and spice and everything nice,” thought the mother girl. “This is my once upon a time and our perfect little family of four will live happily ever after.”
Seasons came and seasons left. The family experienced happiness and sadness. There were times of deep sorrow and seasons of great joy. They buried one tiny prince and brought home another beautiful princess. Prince Charming chased his dream and made it his reality and the mother girl surrounded herself with the four that loved her most. Caught up in the busyness of life, she couldn’t see the joy that was hers. Instead, she wondered when the “happily ever after” part of her life would start.
In the drudgery of the days, the mother girl pined for another “once upon a time” to make her happy again. Yet, that single time never seemed to come. Instead, dissatisfaction with her life and discouragement at her circumstances allowed a deep sense of discontentment to take root in her soul. The mother girl struggled through her days not realizing that how blind her heart had become.
Late one night, the mother girl stumbled upon a story of another kind. A tale, written in daily doses, straight from the heart stirred the mother girl’s wounded soul. In the dark, the screen of her computer kept her company as she read and read and read the blog of a woman far away. The woman’s words blew a breath of fresh air to the mother girl’s hot, stuffy heart.
The mother girl read and pondered for many a day. The woman whose blog she found talked of gratitude and living each day in the moment. Such concepts were foreign to the mother girl but in a final act of desperately seeking a once upon a time that would satisfy her soul, the mother girl took the dare. The blog woman dared her to find one thousand things for which she was grateful. The list began slowly. Painstakingly, the mother girl searched for things to write down to fulfill the required number.
It was in the act of fulfilling the required number, that the mother girl’s heart began to heal. Through the weeks and months she consecutively listed her gratitude gifts…things like #241 indoor plumbing and #882 a boy who asks questions. She slowly added to her list to 1000 and beyond… #1186 a slow morning and #1901 the joy of hard work.
So busy was she in counting her gratitude gifts as she chose to live in each moment, the mother girl didn’t see the change that took place in her heart. Joy replaced dissatisfaction and happiness replaced discouragement. A deep sense of contentment filled her world.
It was on another new day when epiphany struck the mother girl. On that day, in that moment, at that once upon a time, the mother girl realized that once upon a time happens just once upon each and every time. As time regenerates every nanosecond, so does the chance to have another once upon a time. And, just as once upon a time is attainable always, so is the fairytale ending. Happily ever after is a state of the heart rather than an end to a once upon a time.
Through this epiphany and this lesson of life, the mother girl finally got it. She now strives to live each moment as its own once upon a time and to fully embrace that time. It’s in the living in each and every moment that she has found her joy. The mother girl closed the cover to the Brother’s Grimm fairtyales and the novels that start with just one once upon a time. Instead, she is living her own best life moment by moment.
This mother girl is truly living her once upon a time over and over again. And, she fully expects to live happily ever after.