Journey 276: Celebrating Mom

My mom’s birthday was September 25. I got to see her that day and drop a gift by. See Journey 268 Today my sisters, two nieces, a nephew and four of my mother’s great-grandchildren joined me in celebrating my mom in the way she most enjoys…hanging out together, chatting, and feasting…with a couple of shopping trips thrown in for good measure. 


Mom chose one of her favorite restaurants for her birthday dinner, Golden Corral. We have some family jokes around eating at this popular buffet-style restaurant, but honestly, everyone can eat their favorite foods here, whether that’s pizza, ham, a salad or chocolate dipped strawberries. As always, the best part of dining together is the merry flow of conversation around the table. I was graced to sit between two handsome young men, my great-nephews Ethan and Kaleb. 

After lunch, Ethan and Papa Walter returned home while the rest of us visited the Spirit Halloween store just down the street. My niece Ashley and her husband Jon and my sister Debbie throw a huge Halloween party every year. It’s amazing and fun for the family, and time consuming for them, but something they enjoy. They are always on the look out for props for decor. October, fittingly enough, is also Ashley’s birthday month. She scored an early birthday present today from her mom when she found this animated three headed dog. Kaleb, who is nonplussed by all the ghosts, zombies and ghouls, made me laughed as he cheerfully linked arms with this fellow, pictured below.   

 We made another stop on the way back to mom’s, so other family members could stock up on curcumin. We all have aches and pains and the many other ailments that this supplement combats makes it well worth trying out. We are considering it our own group study. 


Back at mom’s we spent the rest of the afternoon together. The kids roamed the backyard, playing with Scotty the border collie. Jon, who is an absolute sweetheart, rocked little Lola to sleep. Ethan created Doctor Who themed video games on his iPad while we discussed that awesome show. I love the conversations that the adults have, on every subject imaginable. And I love the conversations that I have with the children in the family, whether they are two years old or ten. I not only value their input and perspective, and appreciate their intelligence and cleverness, I get the opportunity to share with them as I listen to what’s going on in their worlds. 

Ethan, who is ten years old, and a 5th grader this year, is an incredibly bright boy, a whiz at math and science, tender hearted toward his friends and family, and not afraid to share with me today that he has been teased because of his intelligence and giftedness. This fellow Whovian has been called weird. How happy I was to share my own weirdness with him and encourage him to rejoice in his uniqueness. The whole family chimed in, relating their own stories. As his dad quipped, “Who wants to be normal?” I don’t! My family is full of the extraordinary, the poets, the artists, the writers, the misfits. We happen to like our family the way it is. 

 It was, with such unique souls gathered together, an extraordinary day indeed, presided over by my mother. I am grateful for her, and her gracious and creative heart and soul that shines so brightly, illuminating the path so that we all can follow. And I am grateful for my family, those who gathered today and those who couldn’t join us, each and every one a bright and beautiful soul, unique….and yes, weird…in their own quirky and delightful ways. I wouldn’t have us be anything else. 

Journey 275: Cinderella

I purchased the DVD of this latest version of Cinderella when it released 10 days ago. My little granddaughter Aubrey and I were going to have tea and watch it together. The day I picked her up from school, the gorgeous weather lured us outside and we ended up at a park, instead. After I arrived home late this evening, after a full day, I debated on what part of my journey to blog about. All afternoon, I had been thinking about this movie. For reasons unknown, it was calling to me. With apologies to Aubrey, I watched it this evening, and loved it.

Cinderella movie poster

Cinderella stars Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi, Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgard, Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger, Ben Chaplin and Hayley Atwell. This Disney film was directed by Kenneth Branagh. It is rated PG for mild adult themes and  has a run time of 1 hour and 45 minutes.

This fairy tale was my favorite, when I was a little girl. I grew up with two versions of the classic story: Disney’s 1950 animated cartoon and the 1965 musical from Rodgers and Hammerstein, which appeared annually on TV for many years. Of the two, I was more drawn to the Rodgers and Hammerstein live action, partly because of the song, “In My Own Little Corner”. I identified with the main character, not because of my circumstances…I was not orphaned, had a kind stepmother, no stepsisters, and definitely, no singing mice or birds that helped me to clean. I thought our names were similar…Cindy….Cinderella…and I liked her way of perceiving life. I liked her imagination, her willingness to believe in magic, her perpetual hope.

I’ve seen many variations of the Cinderella story, and valued aspects of them all. Ever After with Drew Barrymore was particularly good. After enjoying Disney’s live action version of Sleeping Beauty, called Maleficent, I looked forward to this re-telling of Ella, the girl with a good and kind heart who becomes a servant girl to her stepmother and stepsisters after her father dies.

And this was a beautifully done movie. The story opens with a voice over by the fairy godmother, (Carter) saying that Ella (James) “…saw the world not only as it was, but as perhaps it could be, with just a little bit of magic.” I was captivated immediately. This version offered a glimpse into Ella’s early childhood, while her mother (Atwell) still lived. Much of her attitude and her enchanted views of the world and life came from Cinderella’s beautiful mother. She gave her young daughter a sentence to live by, “Have courage, and be kind” and those words shaped the rest of her life as she often whispered them to herself. It was a very touching scene as the little girl’s mother told her she must go soon and asked for forgiveness, which Ella immediately gave.

Cinderella and stepmother and stepsisters

When Ella’s lonely father (Chaplin) married again, the peace and joy she had known her entire life was invaded. Cate Blanchett played the role of the stepmother well, bringing a certain beauty and grace to the character, with a hard edge of grief and desperate need. “It was said of her that she too had known grief, but she wore it wonderfully well.” I could find sympathy for this woman, who told her story to Ella, sharing that she married the first time for love, and lost that love to death. She married the second time for her daughters’ securities, and lost that as well. The stepsisters Anastasia (Grainger) and Drisella (McShera) were not ugly to behold. It was their souls that were broken and they became seeking, grasping women, very jealous of the radiance that Ella exuded. They called her Cinderella to hurt her, and their words carried power and began to change Ella’s perceptions of herself.

The rest of the cast was rounded out with a very handsome young prince (Madden) who was charming indeed, especially when his emotions were so evident in his eyes. His father the king was strikingly portrayed by Derek Jacobi, a wonderful classical actor, and Skarsgard made a rather shady Grand Duke, whose actions contradicted his words. The captain of the guard was delightfully fleshed out by Nonso Anozie. Another very touching scene, for me, which mirrored Ella’s loss of her mother, was when the king lay dying and his grown son curled up against him,as he sobbed, his head on his chest, much as a small child would do.


I was not expecting talking mice but the mice were present, albeit silent, significant characters in this version as well. The animals, Ella humming snatches of tunes from the animated film, the bumbling fairy godmother and the words “bibbidi bobbibi boo” brought nostalgic familiarity, as did two songs from the original movie, performed during the credits.

The strength of this movie lay in the quotes that bookended the action. Have courage, and be kind. And, as Ella goes to meet the prince, to try on the glass slipper left behind at the end of the ball, words that struck my heart: “Would who she was, who she really was, be enough? There was no magic to help her this time. This is perhaps the greatest risk that any of us will take, to be seen as we truly are.” What amazing words. I replayed that scene several times, it was so powerful, so poignant. To be seen for who I truly am…is that enough? Am I enough? Hasn’t that always been my question as well? Ultimately, I have discovered that only I can answer those questions.

Ella faced the prince, before trying on the shoe, and makes no apology for who she is. She asked, bluntly, “Will you accept me as I am?” Isn’t that the question we all ask, with or without words? It is my question. He answered in kind, “Yes. Will you accept me as I am?” Again, I have answered my own question. Will I accept myself as I am? Yes. Live as the person that I am? In process. In one of the final scenes, as Ella leaves on the prince’s arm, she faced her stepmother and said, simply, “I forgive you.” Another mirroring of Ella’s final moments with her mother.

I look forward to watching this movie again, with Aubrey. Now that I have seen it, and it is even now playing again as I type, I will watch Aubrey’s little face, interpret the emotions that flicker across her face and flare up in her blue eyes. I can’t wait to tell her, “Who you really are, is enough.” And for all of my grandchildren, I have new words to share, “Have courage, and be kind.” They are all enough. They are all accepted, as they are.

Cinderella Have Courage and Be Kind