Music Monday: The Call

Music Monday!

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

Today’s song is: “the Call” by Regina Spektor

Listen to the song here (OR just watch Prince Caspian):

Oh… you prefer LIVE.  Well, here ya go then:

Lyrics:

“It started out as a feeling
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder
‘Til it was a battle cry
I’ll come back when you call me
No need to say goodbye

Just because everything’s changing
Doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before
All you can do is try to know who your friends are
As you head off to the war
Pick a star on the dark horizon and follow the light
You’ll come back when it’s over
No need to say goodbye
You’ll come back when it’s over
No need to say goodbye

Now we’re back to the beginning
It’s just a feeling and no one knows yet
But just because they can’t feel it too
Doesn’t mean that you have to forget
Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
‘Til they’re before your eyes
You’ll come back when they call you
No need to say goodbye
You’ll come back when they call you
No need to say goodbye”

Why this song’s so cool: It’s soooooo pwetty!

Why this song’s helpful: It’s chock-a-block FULL of inspirey messages and allusions.

Those who leave you never really leave you.

“Just because everything’s changing doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before.” YOU CAN DO IT! You will get through this. This too shall pass.

The war is your challenges and obstacles.  And you’ll come back to yourself and who you truly are once you’ve weathered the storm.

Follow the light.

A reminder that what is important to you may not be important to everyone but that’s okay.

Music Monday: Good Old Girl

just another Music Monday! whoa-oo-oh!

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

Today’s song is: “Good Old Girl” by Marian Call

Listen to the song here:

Lyrics:

“She’s a good old girl
A good old girl
She’s lived too long and seen too much
All over scabs and scars and such
But she’s a pretty girl
Kinda pretty girl
If you cock your head and squint
If you recognize the prints of space and time

Doing what they do
Shepherding her through
Space will slow her stride
Time will turn her tide
It’s far too much to take
But my girl don’t know when to break
So she’ll make, she’ll make her way
She’s a good old girl
She’ll fly true

Her structure’s sound
Her clock is wound
Through mistreatment and neglect
She’ll give whatever she’s got left
And she’s run aground
She’s run aground
But on the weakest breath of wind
She’ll up and navigate the din of love and lies

Doing what they do
Shepherding her through
Truth will stem her pride
And time will turn her tide
It’s far too much to take
But my girl don’t know how to break
So she’ll make, she’ll make her way
She’s a good old girl
She’ll fly true

She’s a good old girl
My good old girl
She’s lived too long and seen too much
But still responds to the right touch
And she’s a pretty girl
Such a pretty girl
In the presence of her pain
You can’t hear nothin’ but the rain of space and time

Doing what they do
Shepherding her through
Space will slow her stride
And time will tell she’s tried
It’s far too much to take
But my girl don’t know when to break
So she’ll make, she’ll make her way
She’ll make her way
She’s good”

Why this song’s so cool:  1. It’s part of an entire album (Got to Fly) Marian Call did in honor of Firefly and Battlestar Galactica… so that’s awesome!  2. It’s just lovely. 3. That’s really it. 4. Move along.

5. PERFECT for the TARDIS! <3

Why this song’s helpful: You know that part at the end of the movie Serenity where Cap’n Mal asks Zoe, “Think she’ll hold together?” and Zoe replies, “She’s tore up plenty.  But she’ll fly true.” We aaaaalllllllllll knew she wasn’t only talking about Serenity. Even though Serenity and Zoe both went through a lot of painful and drastic transformations, experienced significant loss, and came out the other side with many physical and emotional scars, they DID come out.  They’re both good ol’ girls – strong, sturdy, loyal, and ready to soldier on and be true to themselves even in the face of great adversity.


https://mariancall.com/

What is the use of stories that aren’t even true?

What IS the use of stories that aren’t even true?


The oft-asked question in Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories is, “What is the use of stories that aren’t even true?”

While Rushdie’s book is described as an example of a more comical and light subdivision of the fantasy genre, each form of fantasy contains within it a variety of aspects that resonate within additional fantastical categories. Rushdie’s question can be applied to and answered through any genre of fantasy.

There is truth in every fictional story, and the uses of fictional stories, while dependent to some extent upon author intent and reader response, are, in fact, infinite.

If fictional stories had no use, why would anyone write fiction or fantasy? 

Storytellers may not be aware of their subtexts, attitudes, or perspectives about the purpose or benefit of their words and stories, but that does not mean they are not present.  While ideas about use may vary and differ, each author must believe that their storytelling will be put to some use or another.  These uses are often subjective, multifaceted, and numerous.  Just as an author may communicate many different ideas, meanings, and uses, readers may also interpret or superimpose many different ideas, meanings, and uses.  C.S. Lewis communicated tenants of Christian theology through many of his works, but he also reiterated the use of fantasy as a way for readers to address real-life issues, through a fantasy world to explore “emotional dilemmas (they) feel faced by in their everyday lives” (Rustin, 1987, p. 40).  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is clearly representative of the important use of fantasy as a tool to address cultural, societal, emotional, and psychological needs, understanding, and development – a prevalent perspective about fantasy’s value and use.

The primary, overarching importance of the use of children’s fantasy literature is the idea that the genre addresses and fulfills vital “psychological, cultural and aesthetic needs which are disregarded by most other forms of contemporary literature” (Oziewicz, 2008, p. 66). 

Fantasy allows the fears and worries of society to be addressed and explored, as well as providing a great deal of “potential as an emotional survival strategy” (Bharat, 2015, p. 305).  In addition, “stories can be a cohesive force in constructing a community” (Mukherjee, 1998, p. 175), a force that allows communities to overcome obstacles and experience positive growth and development.  Lloyd Alexander’s “The Grammar of Story” emphasizes this importance by detailing the ways in which words and storytelling can work magic.  Rushdie’s narrative in Haroun and the Sea of Stories provides valuable political and cultural implications about the intrinsic value and power of words and stories. This is just one narrative that articulates the importance of stories and storytelling and the ways in which they can be applied to resisting terror and oppression by conquering fears through living life instead of through grand, cosmic acts of courage.

Through the creation of a fantasy narrative such as this, an author can invent their own logic and use and incorporated it into each aspect of the story, so it has a sturdy base: “We don’t dig the foundation after the house is built” (Alexander, 1981, p. 10), and the fantasy world must have “identifiable and workable laws underpinning it” (Yolen, 1996, p. 173).  While each work of fantasy is unique, they are all bonded by their structure and interconnected in their capacity to encourage imaginative exploration and address very real concepts, dilemmas, and threats, such as the “tyranny of fear” (Bharat, 2015, p. 304).  New fears are constantly arising, and all types of fantasy literature can help to confront and explore these fears through large societal battles of terrorism and oppression as well as smaller, but no less important, battles of personal conflict, growth, and development.

Conflict is the dynamic element of any story, and the fate of the world can be affected by cosmic, mythopoeic quest and conflict as well as by the conflict-response behavior of a single person, as revealed through interactions with themselves, others, and the world around them.

While each fantasy story may be categorized according to a general consensus of its overall purpose, use, or tone, each fantasy story is an amalgam of diverse components that draw on a variety of ideas about the truth of untrue stories.  “What is the use of stories that aren’t even true?”  The use of Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories is to answer this very question, and in many ways, this is the use of every work of fantasy literature.  Storytellers create illusions, and the truth in that illusion is “how thoroughly it convinces us of its reality; how strongly it resonates in our emotions; how deeply it moves us to new feelings and new insights.” (Alexander, 1981, p. 4).

Truth is not always convincing, and a fantasy story can help a reader to recognize and understand the truth in the world around them.

‘Untrue’ fantasy stories are incredibly valuable in an infinite number of ways.  Each fantasy genre, and each fantasy story, has unique and distinctive qualities.  In mythopoeic fantasy, adventure has momentous scale and consequences. However, while lighter fantasy genres may seem to lack cosmic battles of good versus evil, the adventures and battles still have consequences that are momentous to the characters experiencing them.

While mythopoeic fantasy suggests big answers to big questions, small answers to small questions are just as substantially cosmic to those affected by them.

A child can have an adult adventure that articulates hope for all humanity by the simple act of articulating the hope of one human. 

One human is a part of humanity, and the truth is that one child can change the world.


References

Alexander, Lloyd. (1981). The grammar of story. In Betsy Hearne and Marilyn Kaye (Eds), Celebrating children’s books: Essays on children’s literature in honor of Zena Sutherland. (pp. 3-13). New York: Lothrop, Lee, and Shepard Books.

Bharat, Meenakshi. (2015). Creative fear in Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and Luka: The ‘safe house’ of children’s literature. In Marvels & tales. (pp. 304-323).

Lewis, C.S. (1950). The lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. New York: Harper Collins.

Mukherjee, Meenakshi. (1998). Politics and children’s literature: a Reading of Haroun and the Sea of Stories. In Ariel: a Review of international English literature. (pp. 163-177).

Oziewicz, Marek. (2008). One earth, one people: The Mythopoeic fantasy series of Ursula K. Le Guin, Lloyd Alexander, Madeline L’Engle, and Orson Scott Card. New York: Simon Pulse.

Rowling, J.K. (1999). Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic.

Rushdie, Salman. (1990). Haroun and the sea of stories. New York: Penguin.

Rustin, Margaret and Michael. (1987). Narnia: an Imaginary land as container for moral and emotional adventure. In Narratives of love and loss: Studies in modern children’s fiction. (pp. 40-58). New York: Verso.

Strimel, Courtney B. (2004). The politics of terror: Rereading Harry Potter,” In Children’s literature in education. (pp. 35-52).

Yolen, Jane. (1996). Turtles all the way down. In Sheila Egoff et al. (Eds) Only connect: Readings on children’s literature. (pp. 164-174). New York: Oxford University Press.

Identity, Assumptions, and Hope – OH MY!

Identity, Assumptions, and Hope – OH MY!


One of the papers for my fantasy literature class detailing the ways fantasy can offer new perspectives, help people cope with trauma and problems, and encourage critical thinking.


A common thread found in fantasy literature is the transposition of societal issues into fantastical forms to use perspective to better comprehend and process these issues. This transposition distances the reader from reality and abstracts the issues, allowing them to be more easily explained and understood through metaphorical connections.  Contentious and significant issues such as racism, classism, terrorism, power, identity, discrimination and stereotypes can often be explored through fantasy literature parallels and reflections.  Critical thinking concepts and overarching values of humanity can also be presented and investigated to great effect though fantasy. There is no end to the range of societal issues fantasy literature can introduce and examine to reach beneficial comprehension and valuable meaning.

Fantasy is so valuable because it “invokes the possibility of living under different terms and conditions” (Whitley, 2000, p. 175), and “can engage seriously with key issues within contemporary culture” (Whitley, 2000, p. 182).  J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Nancy Farmer’s the House of the Scorpion are both excellent examples of demonstrating engagement with key contemporary cultural issues through living under different conditions.  Each book presents a narrative that challenges basic assumptions about identity, ambiguity, and power dynamics as well as encourages that the reader think more critically about and observe more carefully the interactions and interpretations around them.

Mistaken assumptions or interpretations and engrained stereotypes are present in each of these fantasy books.  In the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is told that Sirius Black is evil and wants him dead, and he believes it is the truth.  He hears this well-established interpretation from people he trusts and people in power, and they are all wrong.  Assumptions were made and cemented, which led to a flawed communal perception. This radical example of the promotion of misinformation encourages the reader to ask questions and think more critically. An information source may purposefully and knowingly promote a false perception, but a source may just be ignorant of the truth.  Even if a source is trusted, the truth may be vastly different from society’s common perception.

Society’s common perception in Nancy Farmer’s book is one that clones are unintelligent beasts.  Certain viewpoints are taught about clones and identity that are false.  Matt proves many assumptions wrong when he meets people who hold the entrenched negative opinions regarding clones.  His characteristics are inconsistent with their pre-conceived assumptions.  Those in power actively choose to spread these assumptions about clones to take advantage of them.  In Rowling’s book, there are also people in power who knowingly endorse fictitious or deceptive explanations to their own benefit.

Such conscious misinformation emphasizes the inherent ambiguity within the nature of humanity, which becomes tangled and complex in both books.  The characters are often ambiguous and contradictory within both their true and their perceived identities.  The identity can be a fragile thing.  It can be shaped by, or discovered by observing negative assumptions and prejudices.  Matt’s identity was shaped by the negative limited perspectives to which he had access.  Because of the marginalization he experiences, his perspectives are impacted. Being a clone in his world is to be inferior and unclean.  In Harry Potter’s world, some believe that being a muggle, or muggle-born is to be inferior and unclean.  However, appearances can be deceiving, and appearance doesn’t always mean physical appearance, it can also mean identity or perceived identity. Hermione is harassed for her muggle-born status, Hagrid is discriminated against for being a half-giant with a (wrongful) criminal record, and Remus Lupin is treated with unfair prejudice and disgust for being a werewolf.  Humanity is not always simple, nor is it always reflective of outward appearance or commonly-held beliefs about identities.  Rowling’s books force children “to consider characterizations of goodness and badness” (Strimel, 2004, p. 45), and the consequences and implications of these characterizations.  The ambiguity inherent in the characterizations presents another opportunity to think critically about people and events, both real, and imaginary.

In each of these books, the impact of the fantastical transposition is amplified due to solid foundations in real issues. Fantasy literature needs to have substantiality to be most effective in exploring society’s problems and possibilities.  The wish-fulfilment that fantasy literature offers “needs to be grounded in something substantial if it is to become fully satisfying” (Whitley, 2000, p. 175). Farmer bases her story on circumstances and prejudices that already exist between differing peoples, and scientific advances that are already happening.  Science fiction such as this presents a unique opportunity to explore the ramifications of future societal issues and problems.  By looking to the hypothetical potential good and bad of the future, it is helpful to “open our minds to all possibilities” (Greenfield, 2003, p. 9).  Rowling also presents a wide range of hypothetical situations and possibilities, as well as utilizes widespread prejudice in which to base her world. In addition, her fantasy is grounded in reality through common mythological, religious, and cultural viewpoints and archetypes that are relatable and familiar.

From terrorism to depression, from identity to religion, fantasy is constantly offering new perspectives and the hope to overcome the perpetration of harmful perspectives, opinions, and stereotypes.  Both Rowling’s and Farmer’s fantasy books emphasize the misleading potential of a limited viewpoint.  Hope exists, and with a little knowledge, creativity, and guidance, perhaps fantasy literature can help lead society into tolerance, acceptance, and open-mindedness.


References

Cohen, Signe. (2016). A postmodern wizard: The religious bricolage of the Harry Potter series In Journal of religion and popular culture.  (pp. 54-66).

Crew, Hilary S. (2004). Not so brave a world: The representation of human cloning in science fiction for young adults, In The lion and the unicorn. (pp. 203-221.)

Farmer, Nancy. (2004). The house of the scorpion. New York: Simon Pulse.

Greenfield, Susan. (2003). The future: What is the problem? In Tomorrow’s people: How 21st century technology is changing the way we think and feel. (pp. 1-9). London: Allen Lane.

Rowling, J.K. (1999). Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Scholastic.

Strimel, Courtney B. (2004). The politics of terror: Rereading Harry Potter,” In Children’s literature in education. (pp. 35-52).

Whitley, D. (2000). Fantasy narratives and growing up. In Eve Bearne and Victor Watson (Eds), Where texts and children meet. (pp. 172-182.) New York: Routledge Press.

Yolen, Jane. (1996). Turtles all the way down.” In Sheila Egoff et al. (Eds) Only connect: Readings on children’s literature. (pp. 164-174). New York: Oxford University Press.

Music Monday: Start it All Over Again

Music Monday!

It’s not Monday*, and I don’t even care.

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

Today’s song is: “Start it All Over Again” by Heidi Talbot

Listen to the song here:

Lyrics:

“I’m the sea that surrounds you
The garden that grounds you
The sun and the wind and the rain
I am every season
You’re every reason
To start it all over again

Soon you’ll sail a wild river
We’ll set sail together
And oceans will call out your name
And by stars you will follow
Your hopes for tomorrow
And start it all over again

And if you stagger or stumble
If dreams start to crumble
I’ll pick up the pieces of pain
I will cradle you cry with you
Pray that you’ll try to just
Start it all over again

Who has eyes that can see
All the things you could be?
Who has ears for the sweetest refrain?
May your heart sing forever
Where the sea meets the river
And start it all over again”

Why this song’s so cool:   Don’t think I could say it better than this guy in the comments: “Makes me feel like I’m in The Shire, smoking a pipe with Gandalf. In a good way.” – Dane Cobain

Oh, HEY, apparently he has a website about writing and music…. 🙂 http://danecobain.com/
And also a fun book blog!!  http://www.socialbookshelves.com/about/

I guess I could only add that if I could marry someone’s voice, it might be Heidi Talbot’s.

Why this song’s helpful: Still don’t think I could say it better than this other guy in the comments: “With a little faith, this lovely song allows for hope beyond what at times feels as if there is only hopelessness.” – Legrand Bakker

No website for this deep thinker. 🙁


More about Heidi Talbot:

http://www.heiditalbot.com/

More about the Mahogany Sessions:

About

*It feels like a Monday to me…

Music Monday: Something to Sing About

Music Monday!

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

Today’s song is: “Something to Sing About” from Once More With Feeling, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode.

Listen to the song here:

Lyrics:

“Life’s a show and we all play a part
And when the music starts,
We open up our hearts

It’s all right if some things come out wrong.
We’ll sing a happy song
And you can sing along.

Where’s there’s life,
There’s hope.
Everyday’s
A gift.
Wishes can
Come true.
Whistle while
You work.
So hard
All day.

To be like other girls
To fit in in this glittering world.
Don’t give me songs.
Don’t give me songs.

Give me something to sing about.
I need something to sing about.

Life’s a song
You don’t get to rehearse.
And every single verse
Can make it that much worse.

Still my friends
Don’t know why I ignore
The million things or more
I should be dancing for.

All the joy
Life sends.
Family
And friends.
All the twists
And bends
Knowing that
It ends.
Well that
Depends…

On if they let you go,
On if they know enough to know

That when you bow
You leave the crowd.

There was no pain,
No fear, no doubt
Till they pulled me out
Of heaven.

So that’s my refrain.
I live in hell
’Cause I’ve been expelled
From heaven.
I think I was in heaven.

So give me something to sing about.
Please give me something.

Life’s not a song.
Life isn’t bliss.
Life is just this.
It’s living.
You’ll get along.
The pain that you feel
Only can heal
By living.
You have to go on living.
So that one of us is living.”

Why this song’s so cool:  Sure – let’s do another Buffy song.  Because they’re great!

Everyone feels like they’re just faking their way through life, hoping nobody notices we’re all just big frauds with no clue what we’re doing. When this feeling gets to be too overwhelming, we can get a bit frantic and spin out of control as we try to grasp anything to hold on to. Buffy LITERALLY spins out of control and almost combusts. But she is saved from an unexpected source, Spike. Which is great because sometimes you can’t predict who or what is going to help you.

Plus I wouldn’t have wanted to see that SUPER CUTE shirt she was wearing to be destroyed.

Why this song’s helpful: Once again, Buffy expresses her struggle to fit in and be ‘normal.’ She is lost and directionless and frustrated about feeling that way when she didn’t used to feel that way.  She doesn’t know how to communicate with her friends, she doesn’t feel like they understand. In addition, she feels extremely guilty for not feeling more happy and grateful that she’s alive. She is trying so hard to focus on the positive and to find something to be happy and sing about, but it is just not working.  That’s not her fault. Sometimes you do everything right, and you still don’t succeed.  Isn’t that a Star Trek quote…? Anyway, so Buffy is trying to fake her way through her life and just pretend that she is experiencing happiness, when the reality is that she constantly feels like she is in hell, that is what depression feels like.


About the musical episode:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0533466/

The Buffy wiki page:

http://buffy.wikia.com/wiki/Once_More,_with_Feeling

a Daylio in the Life

Daylio is the name of a free habit-tracking app that I find really helpful.


Every day you do your daily check-in, you customize activities and then check them off if you do them that day.  Easy as that.

The best part is that the app generates statistics based on your entries.  You can look at different activities and moods on a calendar, a chart, and more! ooohhhhhh color-coordination! Such fun!

My best best-day streak yet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see which days you are most consistently happy, and which days you are more often sad (probably Mondays, amirite!?)  Weirdly for September so far I seem to be saddest on the weekends?

In addition, you can look at data about how your mood correlates to the activities you do.  For example, you may discover that on bad days, you frequently eat junk food.  Of course, who knows if you’re eating junk food because you’re feeling bad or if you’re feeling bad because you’re eating junk food? It’s correlation, not causation.

heeeyyyy – I am happy on days I write! Or I write on days I’m happy! whatevs….
ooOOooo look how much I meditate! I am fancy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With this super fun app, you can work on improving good habits, eliminating bad habits, and becoming more aware of how your activities affect your mood and vice versa.  Huzzah!

and now I can check my little ‘writing’ bubble AND my ‘blog’ bubble for today!

Music Monday: Going Through the Motions

Music Monday!

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

Today’s song is: “Going Through the Motions” from Once More With Feeling, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode.

Listen to the song here:

Lyrics:

“Every single night, the same arrangement,
I go out and fight the fight.
Still I always feel this strange estrangement,
Nothing here is real, nothing here is right.

I’ve been making shows of trading blows,
Just hoping no one knows,
That I’ve been going through the motions,
Walking though the part,
Nothing seems to penetrate my heart.

I was always brave and kind of righteous,
Now I find I’m wavering.
Crawl out of your grave, you find this fight
Just doesn’t mean a thing

(Henchman) She ain’t got that swing.

(Buffy) -pause- Thanks for noticing.

(Demon & Henchmen) She is pretty well with fiends from Hell
But lately we can tell
That she’s just going through the motions
Faking it somehow.

(Demon) She’s not even half the girl she…owww!

(Buffy) Will I stay this way forever?
Sleepwalk through my life’s endeavor?

(Handsome Young Man) How can I repay…?

(Buffy) Whatever!
I don’t want to be
Going through the motions,
Losing all my drive.
I can’t even see,
If this is really me,
And I just wanna be alive.”

Why this song’s so cool:  At this point in Buffy’s story line, Buffy is really struggling to readjust to ‘normalcy,’ cause… you know… she DIED.  Also, when she was dead, she was in some version of heaven.  Her friends brought her back to life because they thought she was trapped in a horrible hell dimension, but in all actuality, she was safe and at peace. It’s just a very fun song that packs an emotional punch.  It’s a great way to visualize the feelings of depression as something more tangible, even if it is fantasy-based.

Why this song’s helpful: Buffy’s feelings are so applicable to someone struggling with depression.
Season six is probably Buffy’s darkest season.  And this makes her especially relevant for those struggling with depression.  Buffy doesn’t enjoy the things she used to, she struggles accomplishing basic, everyday tasks, no one understands why she is so sad and changed and her friends want her to just get over it already.  She feels lost, alone, guilty, worthless, helpless, empty, directionless: THESE ARE LITERALLY SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION.  She doesn’t know who she is anymore, and that is what depression feels like.

About the musical episode:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0533466/

The Buffy wiki page:

http://buffy.wikia.com/wiki/Once_More,_with_Feeling

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/