Queen of Katwe

Although I watched Queen of Katwe last week, I saved the review until after the Hygge Challenge, for a reason. I needed time to unpack the truths. This film, based on a true story, found its way to me in an unusual fashion. Not only did the story inspire me, it underscored that something magical is occurring in my life.

This trek down the rabbit hole began when my daughter Elissa sent me a quote:

“Sometimes the place you are used to is not the place where you belong.” From the film Queen of Katwe

She had not heard of the movie, nor did she look it up. Elissa loved the quote and thought I would appreciate it. Plus, there was the intriguing word queen listed in the source of the quote. The queen chess piece is my symbol for 2019 and the word and image continue to show up daily in my life.

I loved the quote too. And being unfamiliar with the film, I looked it up. This is what I read, as a summary of the storyline:

A Ugandan girl sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess.

Amazed, once again, I had to watch the movie.

Move Review Queen of Katwe

Queen of a Film

Queen of Katwe stars Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Kabanza and Hope Katende. This biographical drama, directed by Mira Nair, is based on the book by the same title written by Tim Crothers. The movie carries a PG rating, for adult themes, and has a run time of 2 hours and 4 minutes.

A young Ugandan girl, Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga), lives in the slum town of Katwe with her mother and siblings. After the death of her husband, Phiona’s mother Harriet (Nyong’o) struggles to feed and provide for her four children. She moves them from house to dilapidated house, barely able to survive.

The children are removed from school and help their mother by selling maize on the litter strewn streets.

Movie Review Queen of Katwe

Changing Her Life

Life is difficult and the future bleak, until Phiona follows her younger brother Brian (Kabanza) one day to a neighborhood mission. There she meets Coach Robert Katende (Oyelowo) and watches as children from Katwe play chess. The boards are hand painted and the chess pieces rough, however Phiona and several of the other children discover that they have a knack for the game of strategy.

In fact, Coach Katende quickly realizes that Phiona is a chess prodigy, able to visualize eight moves ahead. He and his wife Hope (played in the film by the real life Hope Katende) alter their plans and make choices that allow them to help Phiona and the children of Katwe have a chance at a better life.

From the poorest of the poor families struggling in the slums, Phiona learns to read, studies books about chess and yearns to become a master of the game. This brilliant and amazing girl moves step by step, from a mission house to competitions to international tournaments, her life shifting to parallel the game she is mastering.

Movie Review Queen of Katwe

Movie Review Queen of Katwe

From Pawn to Queen

I was so deeply moved by this film, which is available on DVD and Netflix. What an incredible impact chess had on Phiona and the other children of Katwe. And how life changing was the love of Coach Katende and his wife Hope, for families whose lives appeared hopeless. Coach showed great respect for Phiona’s mother, honoring her as he recognized the difficult sacrifices she made for her children.

This feel good movie is cheer worthy. I was in tears by the end and literally applauding. As I usually do after watching a film based on a true story, I fact checked and found the events and portrayals in Queen of Katwe to be accurate. To my delight, an added bonus during the end credits brings together the actors and the people that they played.

Movie Review Queen of Katwe

I don’t yet fully understand what is going on in my own life, however it revolves around this idea of moving, step by step, from being a pawn to becoming a queen. It’s more than an idea. It’s a Divine invitation to learn, to grow, to leave some things behind and enter into new territory. Queen of Katwe inspired me and challenged me to step up my game, so to speak.

The rest of the quote that Elissa sent me is this:

“Sometimes the place you are used to is not the place where you belong. You belong where you believe you belong.” Queen of Katwe

Yes.

Movie Review Queen of Katwe

Let the Games Begin

This story tonight falls under the category of “blew me away”, otherwise known as playing with the Divine. The references to the Queen chess piece, my confirmed symbol for 2019, just keep pouring in from an endless variety of sources. Something happened today that not only made me laugh with delight, it raised my awareness a notch. I can say with anticipation, Let the games begin.

Let the Games Begin

A new school year began recently, and one of my great joys as a Yaya is to bring lunches to my grandkids and join them in their respective cafeterias throughout the year. Today I visited granddaughter Aubrey at her school, supplying her with a favorite meal from Subway.

Let the Games Begin

The principal at Aubrey’s school is very interactive with the kids. As they eat their lunches, he plays educational games with them, shares fun trivia or allows them to have singing contests. I appreciate that rather than sitting in silence, eating a quick lunch, there’s cheerful chatter that contributes to a fun atmosphere.

As the oldest kids in the school, the 4th graders eat last. While students polished off their lunches, Dr. Barlow wheeled in a laptop on a cart and turned on two large screens mounted in the corners of the cafeteria, which doubles as an auditorium.

Aubrey and I were chatting as she ate, and at first I didn’t realize what the principal was doing. He invited kids to form a line in front of the computer and play a game that everyone could observe on the big screens. The kids were playing an online version of chess!

Let the Games Begin

I’ve been present for many lunches in this school cafeteria over the last few years, and this is the first time I’ve seen chess offered as an interactive game with the children. Aubrey verified this was a new activity. As I watched in amazement, Dr. Barlow launched into a brief explanation of the game. When he mentioned how important the Queen chess piece is, I laughed with delight.

Seeing my granddaughter’s puzzled look I explained to her that the Queen chess piece is my new symbol for next year. We had a conversation about how I am given the word and symbol each year and how they guide me by setting a theme. She may not have completely understood the significance of what was happening, with the unexpected game of chess being played in the cafeteria, but it is important that she sees me being grateful and amazed with how life unfolds. And it is important that she begins to grasp that the Divine is orchestrating it all.

Let the Games Begin

I left the school, still marveling at the creative cleverness I had just experienced and the timing of it all. If I had any lingering doubts about embracing the Queen as my symbol for next year, they have been completely dispelled. In extraordinary and almost unbelievable ways my attention has been directed over and over to the Queen chess piece, and the qualities of queenship.

A few days ago, as I sorted through a box of odds and ends from Greg’s parents’ house, I almost tossed a couple white vintage cruet toppers that did not have cruets to top. They seemed useless. And then, that prompting came to look at them more closely. Turning them over in my hand, I saw it. They resemble chess pieces…specifically, Queen chess pieces. They are the start of a collection that I will surely add to during the next 16 months.

Aubrey asked me if I played chess, and owned a chess set. I no longer own the board and pieces however I do know how to play chess. She would like to learn. I will be purchasing the perfect board and set of chess pieces that represent what’s going on in my life.

Thinking about our conversation today and that online chess game brought a new realization. There is more going on here than being presented with a symbol for next year. The playfulness and creativity is a Divine invitation to join in at a deeper level. The repetitive occurrences are to ensure that I don’t miss the invite.

A little over a year ago, when I asked the Divine, Will you play with me? the immediate response was, Will YOU play with ME?

This is a continuation of that conversation. Next year things are going to get interesting…glory, they already are…and I can’t wait to see what unfolds. Will I play? Oh yes, let the games begin! We will figure out the rules as we go along.

Let the Games Begin

Imagining What’s Possible

After a day spent on the phone or staring at a screen, I knew by tea time that I needed a creative activity this evening. I felt that drawing and/or coloring was just what my mind, body and soul needed to unwind, and recharge.

And, I knew what image I wanted to capture.

Imagining What’s Possible

Every time I walked into my studio today, I paused to look at my white board and read the words I’ve written there.

Queen of my own Kingdom…or pawn in someone else’s?

I spent some time this afternoon working on the foundation of the Kingdom I am building, and the desire I felt, every time I stood before the board, confirms to me that this is my destiny. I am willing to do the work. I am willing to learn and grow, to see my dreams become reality.

It is good to have reminders of who I am and where I am heading. I am so excited about next year’s word and symbol, that I chose to create an art piece that captures this part of my journey, this space I inhabit between the dreaming and the coming true.

Imagining What’s Possible

I sketched out the pawn chess piece standing before an enchanted mirror that holds within it the reflection of the queen chess piece. In the game of chess, if a pawn traverses the board and reaches the other side, it can be promoted to any of the other pieces of the same color, except the king. The queen, with her ability to move in all directions, is a powerful choice.

I like the symbolism in that, considering my journey. As I move across the chess board of life, I am becoming queen, transitioning symbolically, to this next role.

Imagining What’s Possible

Imagining What’s Possible

I used Prismacolor pencils to color in my sketch and popped the completed art piece into a frame I had on hand. This work of art tells a story, my story. And it reminds me, like the words on my board, that the choice is mine. The invitation is to become. Doing the inner and outer work necessary is my way of accepting, of saying yes.

This framed art is resting on my bedside table, and it will remain there as this year ticks by. There are still stories to tell…and work to be done…before 2019 arrives. I’m not trying to rush through this year, but oh how my heart is expanding with the joy that I feel as I contemplate what is to come.

To create a life you love, the first step is imaging what’s possible.

The last thing I will look at before turning off my lamp, and the first thing I will look at when I awake each morning, is this visual reminder of the next part of my journey. I am imaging what is possible.

Imagining What’s Possible

Queen of Enchantment

This is a quickly written post, after a long and full day, that hasn’t left much time for creative efforts beyond the bright sparks of thought that are firing in my head. Six days ago, I awoke with a question, posed to me by the Divine.

Do you want to be the Queen of your own kingdom…or a pawn in someone else’s?

You can read the blog post about that story HERE. Since that day, much has developed in my life, around my response to that question.

Queen of Enchantment

I don’t usually share what I am about to share, until the start of a new year. However, I’m offering a peek into my uncommon life and into the process that occurs yearly for me, at about this time. Before a current year ends and a new year arrives, the Divine bestows on me a word that becomes my theme as I journey through the next 12 months. For years I thought I was choosing the word. It turns out the word is given to me, as a hint of what is to come. This year my word has been Story.

I’ve already been given the word for 2019. It arrived about a month ago. I’m breaking my own rules by sharing it now, but it feels right to do so. My word for next year is ENCHANTMENT or some variation, perhaps, of that word. I am delighted. I am inspired.

The word enchant comes from the Latin words in -“in” and cantare – “sing”. The word can mean to fill with charm or to captivate. I like living in those states of being. It can also mean to be under a spell. When I connect that definition with the root word of sing, images of Snow White and Cinderella come to mind, and animals responding to their voices as they sing.

Queen of Enchantment

I have much yet to explore about next year’s word, however you can see the possible direction that this is going.

As for my symbol, I was hoping for the Tree. It seemed to connect with Enchantment…as in enchanted forest. I’ve wanted the Tree to be my symbol for years. It’s not a tree however. When I was asked the question about being a queen or a pawn, I had no inkling that the repetitious signs were about to begin. In the last six days I’ve been inundated with images of the Queen chess piece or I have seen the word queen or I’ve heard the word in songs, commercials and movie trailers. Saturday afternoon I received the image or word queen multiple times in a very short span of time. Repetition and synchronicities are the flashing neon lights that point me in the right direction. Queen, and specifically the queen chess piece, is my symbol for 2019.

Queen of Enchantment

I am still processing information and connecting the dots. I’ll have more to share as this year winds down and a new year beckons. Initially I resisted accepting the symbol given to me. The reasons why are fodder for another blog post. I’ve accepted the symbol now, and I’m excited as I remain open so that I can receive all that I need to know about my ongoing adventure.

The words and symbols given to me each year are for my guidance, personal growth and enjoyment. They flow into one another, in a progressive way, telling the Story of my life. I’m filled with wonderment, and yes, I am enchanted, that from this year’s Story a Queen is emerging. She is me. I am her. I’m full of anticipation about where the journey is headed.

Queen of Enchantment