Ella Enchanted and Being an Ordinary Hero

One of my ultimate favorite fantasy books as a child, and still today, is the reworked fairy tale, “Ella Enchanted” by Gail Carson Levine.  It retells the classic literary fairy tale of Cinderella with some new twists: Ella is, in fact, under a fairy’s gift (curse) to always be obedient.  The tale is a familiar one, but provides more depth and detail about the protagonist and her own journey to discover herself and break the curse herself.  In addition, it answers that question that was always infuriating to me about the size of Cinderella’s feet – surely there was more than one girl in the kingdom whose feet could fit the glass slipper!  Well, in this story, Ella has fairy ancestry, and fairies have significantly smaller-than-average sized feet, so THERE!  Levine’s attention to details such as these really grounded the story and made it more believable to me – it was definitely logical and made sense within the framework she created and expanded upon. While it certainly shares many patterns and characteristics with both more traditional fairy tales as well as reworked fairy tales, this is by far my favorite retelling of Cinderella.  I like that it addresses the real-life issues of the importance of being strong by making your own decisions, standing up for what you believe in, and the worth of sacrifice in relation to love and the protection of those you love.

“Ella Enchanted” provides a universe that is similar to one children have already experienced, but includes a great deal more in the way of explanations, possibilities and self-driven opportunity.  It is a great example of a way to challenge a reader to see beyond more simplistic explanations and search for new perspectives and explanations.  A retold fairy tale is a great example of this, because the concrete universe has already been established, and by telling the same tale from a new perspective, new questions can be unearthed, alternate mindsets discovered, and previously unconsidered horizons can be expanded.  This particular retelling is also consistent with the idea of concepts carrying over from the fantastical worlds to the real ones.  In “Ella Enchanted,” Ella is a real girl with a flaw that she has to work to overcome.  This is certainly a concept that is applicable to many people.  While Ella may not fit the traditional archetype of ‘hero,’ she is still heroic.  She becomes, through her own strength of will, her own knight in shining armor – in the process, saving herself, her prince, and the entire kingdom.  If someone as seemingly average and insignificant as Ella can create such a vast and positive impact, surely this will inspire those who read about her to feel hope and optimism that they, too, can overcome significant challenges and obstacles to create a positive impact on themselves and the world around them.

Fairy tales have been around for a long time.  And with each retelling, they have continued to change and grow ever since their inception.  “Ella Enchanted” is a distinctive example of 21st century fantasy with an alternate world that is still attached to a familiar and long-standing one.  While it may lack the grandeur of Tolkien, or the epic tragedy of Rowling, it is accessible in its realism and its message – one that, while not political or catastrophic, speaks to the more personal internal battles that still must be fought and are no less important than those larger-than-life clashes between good and evil.  “Ella Enchanted” has no evil villain to be abolished or grand quest to be completed.  There are good characters and bad characters, but the main struggle is simply one between a girl and the unwarranted chance restrictions and conditions to which she finds herself bound.  Ella is ordinary, but she is strong.  And it is that kind of inner strength and conviction that is an amazing resource in struggling through such challenges as anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Read it.  Or else.

(If you were Ella, you’d HAVE to obey me, but as it is, you have the freedom of choosing.)

I’ve had this copy for NINETEEN YEARS! I think it looks pretty good considering how many times I’ve read it!

Music Monday: The Fighter – Gym Class Heroes

Music Monday!

Music can be a great source of comfort and inspiration when you’re feeling down.

Today’s song is: “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes

Listen to the song here:

Lyrics:

“Just waking up in the morning
And the be well
Quite honest with ya,
I ain’t really sleep well
Ya ever feel like your train of thought’s been derailed?
That’s when you press on Lee nails
Half the population’s just waitin’ to see me fail
Yeah right, you’re better off trying to freeze hell
Some of us do it for the females
And others do it for the retails

But I do it for the kids, life through the tower head on
Every time you fall it’s only making your chin strong

And I be in the corner like mick, baby, til the end
Or when you hear this song from that big lady
Until the referee rings the bell
Until both your eyes start to swell
Until the crowd goes home
What we gonna do y’all?
Give ’em hell, turn their heads
Gonna live life till we’re dead.
Give me scars, give me pain
Then just say to me, say to me, say to me
There goes a fighter, there goes a fighter
Here comes a fighter
That’s what they’ll say to me, say to me
Say to me, this one’s a fighter
And if I can last thirty rounds
There’s no reason you should ever have your head down
Six foot five, two hundred and twenty pounds
Hailing from rock bottom, Loserville, nothing town
Textbook version of the kid going nowhere fast
And now I’m yelling kiss my a**
It’s gonna take a couple right hooks, a few left jabs
For you to recognize that you really ain’t got it bad
Until the referee rings the bell
Until both your eyes start to swell
Until the crowd goes home
What we gonna do y’all?
Give ’em hell, turn their heads
Gonna live life til we’re dead
Give me scars, give me pain
Then just say to me, say to me, say to me
There goes a fighter, there goes a fighter
Here comes a fighter
That’s what they’ll say to me, say to me
Say to me, this one’s a fighter
Everybody put yo hands up
What we gonna do?
What we gonna do?
What we gonna do?
What we gonna do?
What we gonna do?
What we gonna do?
What we gonna do?
Y’all
If you fall pick yourself up off the floor (get up)
And when your bones can’t take no more
Just remember what you’re here for
‘Cause I know I’ma damn sure
Give ’em hell, turn their heads
Gonna live life till we’re dead
Give me scars, give me pain
Then just say to me, say to me, say to me
There goes a fighter, there goes a fighter
Here comes a fighter
That’s what they’ll say to me, say to me
Say to me, this one’s a fighter
Till the referee rings the bell
Till both ya eyes start to swell
Till the crowd goes home
What we gonna do kid?”
Why this song’s so cool:  Catchy and fun to sing along with in any mood, the only part that bothers me is the lyric “And if I can last thirty rounds, there’s no reason you should ever have your head down.”  I get that it’s supposed to be inspirational, but the reality is that everybody’s battle is different and we are all fighting different things.  Just because one person can win a fight against something doesn’t mean another person can do the same – because every situation is different.  Just because I can do one thing, doesn’t mean that you are not a fighter if you can’t do something similar . . .  or even something different.

Why this song’s helpful: A great reminder to keep fighting. And  just a great conceptual idea to think about especially if you are battling something not visible or physical.  Picturing depression as something you can physically punch in the face can help you take steps towards beating it.  It’s  a visualization tool and can be a helpful method when dealing with whatever you may be struggling with.  Just because you can’t see a struggle doesn’t mean that it’s not there – and overlaying a more visible aspect can enable you to find your fighter’s strength and realize that your fight matters.

More about Gym Class Heroes Here:    http://gymclassheroes.com/

Lists of Love: A Poem

Disclaimer: I wrote this many years ago.  But it’s still pretty accurate and truthful.  I like making lists, and it’s important to focus on the positive in life.  

Lists of Love: A Poem

I love dresses.  I love clothes.  I love buttons, pockets, polka dots, and bows.

I love kindness.  I love good-deeding.  I love curling up ANYWHERE and reading.

I love a good story, and I love books.  I love the food makers – bakers, chefs, and cooks.

 

I love learning and I love knowing.  I love a challenge, opportunities, and growing.

I love adventures and trying new things.  I love it when someone who rarely sings, sings.

I love music.  I love my Uke.  I love harmony more than Leia loved Luke.

 

I love fruit and I love flowers.  I love when the best minutes seem to last for hours.

I love nature.  I love trees.  I love it when people know to say thank you and please.

I love people – Their perspectives and quirks. I especially love them when they don’t act like jerks.

 

I love making people laugh – I love it when they smile.  I love big hugs from those I’ve not seen in a while.

I love silly.  I love fun.  I love laughing with my friends in the sun.

I love sunshine.  I love water.  It’s certain that I love you a great deal more than I oughter.

I love oceans deep.  I love the skies above.  I love many, many things, but mostly I just love.

Ode to Sleep

You’ve gone away and left me
I spend each night alone
Just Waiting and awaiting
for you to come back home.

I miss our days together, 
and our nights as well.
Each day I am without you
Is a day akin to hell.

I miss the way you made me feel;
You kept me safe and warm.
And I could conquer any mountain
With you to calm my storm.

You always left me brimming
With the strength to labor on.
The way you clung to me in mornings,
Anchored me past dawn.

You’re no longer here beside me –
I miss your soft caress
I mostly miss your company:
Without you, I’m a mess.