For as long as I can remember I had always held the notion that magic does exist, miracles do happen, and good fortune can bestow itself upon any mortal. Yet much to my dismay, I had spent a great deal of my time subscribing to the practical certainty that none of these mystical wonders would ever happen to me.
My name is Jillian Bean and I am a witch. It only took 36 years of denial before I finally remembered who I am. Then another dozen years or more to practice being me.
Although I may have never allowed myself to believe that I could lead a charmed life, it was certainly not for a lack of wanting. I understand that marrying Prince Charming, eating whatever I want without gaining a pound, parenting the planet’s future heroes, obtaining unlimited wealth, and then saving the world are somewhat unlikely. Not everyone can live a fairy tale. Embracing the possibility that I could live my own Cinderella story held obvious risks: I would most likely spend most of my life experiencing disappointment and would be continually reminded by others that such lofty ambitions are mere dreams that are rarely obtainable in real life. Hence, I would be viewed as a “crazy lady”, or as my beloved husband, Prince Durwood, lovingly refers to as a “moonbat”.
With the approval of most mortals and what is essentially an entire generation of grown-ups, I relinquished my dreams to their proper place among the realm of fantasy. I made a conscious effort to keep my “moonbat” moments mostly to myself and adapted my restlesss ways to reflect the respected principle that it’s a lot less trouble to simply accept what life offers. Contentment with experiences that you believe you have little or no control over is a valid way to happiness. My life was nice, normal, and pretty damn boring.
Then one day about 12 years ago, I read an Ann Landers column that would not only reawaken my dreams, but inspire me to discover the precise method I would use to create them. It was another normal day-in-the-life. My 8 and 5 year old had been safely deposited at school for the day and my youngest, age 2, was busy coloring at the kitchen table. I had been waiting for a load of bath towels to complete their turn in the spin cycle. I stood in the laundry room sipping my second cup of coffee and began leafing through the daily newspaper that had been placed on top of the clothes dryer at some point during our hectic morning routine. As I turned over a page in the Living section, I spotted a headline that immediately caught my eye. Here’s what it read: ” Grow up and be thankful for the blessings of your ‘dull’ life.”
With a raised eyebrow I put my coffee cup down to pick up the newspaper, all the while keeping my eyes focused on the headline that had piqued my interest. I folded the pages into a suitable gripping configuration in order to give this piece of curiosity my full attention. “Dear Ann Landers, I am a married mother of 4 who is puzzled and searching for answers.” Oh yes, this was definitely relevant and worthy of my consideration. “We have good health, attractive, well-behaved kids and my husband is a wonderful father. But there must be more to life than PTA, housework, cooking, cleaning, laundry and routine sex with your husband.” Wow. Did I write this?! Immediately I scanned to the bottom of the letter to see that it was signed by “Moonglow.” Mmm… not a moonbat exactly, but close enough. With a sudden sense of exhilaration I went back to devour every single word of the letter in which Moonglow courageously poured her heart out to Ann. Moonglow admitted that she realized that she had a lot to be thankful for, but that she ached for “that special electricity” in life, those “feelings that would make her heart beat a mile-a-minute.” “Is there something wrong with me?”, she wrote, “Am I chasing the impossible dream?” By the time I had reached the end of Moonglow’s letter, it was my own heart that was pounding a mile-a-minute. I was surprised to find myself silently weeping now. I felt as if I were right there with Moonglow throughout her entire letter, cheering her on and saluting her bravery. Together we now anxiously awaited the wisdom and the guidance of the Great Ann Landers. And here was our reply: “Dear Moonglow, Put away your story books, little girl. You’ve got some growing up to do.”
Oh, my heart! How strange it is to really feel that sinking sensation. One short moment ago my heart had been pounding a mile-a-minute, hanging on for dear life to some glimmer of hope. After reading those words it felt as if my heart had suddenly become unanchored from all of my dreams and was rapidly spiraling downward. “Yes, there is more to life than cooking, cleaning, laundry and sex with your husband,” she wrote. “There’s illness, infidelity and emotional breakdowns that make it impossible for some women to do housework.” Ouch. As if the scolding for me and Moonglow weren’t harsh enough, the reply continued: “As for sex with your husband, don’t knock it, honey. There are plenty of husbands who aren’t interested and an equal number who are getting sex someplace else. No marriage can maintain the full honeymoon level of excitement forever. And it’s a good thing. We would all collapse from exhaustion.”
By this time I felt that my own heart had collapsed from exhaustion. I was a child again, being lectured on the virtues of counting my blessings and reprimanded for not appreciating the circumstances of my ‘dull’ life. Only I wasn’t a child. I was a grown woman with my own powerful impulses who did not enjoy being told how to behave. I was 36 years old when I realized I had just spent most of those years allowing everyone else to decide what was best for me.
The benefit of spending so much time applying other people’s principles to my own experience is that it provided quite an extensive reference library of contrast for me to choose from. I had unwittingly permitted Ann Landers and most of her grown-up generation to write my own story. There were plot changes, character development and new chapters that I would need to write and edit if I were to make it my own again.
I picked my heart up off the floor that day and placed it tenderly within a breadth of my core being. This new place for my heart now held an unfamiliar and fresh sense of purpose. It was on this day that I embarked upon the journey of self-discovery that would lead me to practice the craft of creating my own best fairy tale. I’ve been having the time of my life ever since.
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