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Written by Vicki Hinze

On March 31, 2006

Warning: This is a no-edit zone…

For the past decade or so, I’ve had a sign on my office wall that reads: WHEN I GROW UP, I WANT TO BE A FAIRY GODMOTHER.

Now before you give in to a hard belly-laugh or a fit of giggles, pause a second and think about it. Can you imagine a more fulfilling job or life than one dedicated to helping people work through their challenges constructively and assisting them in making their dreams come true?

I do what I can in my ways. Most are secret and will remain so. A few are open and those who are of a mind know what they are. The rest don’t really care, so it’s insignificant. But what is significant is that we don’t have to wait to pursue this types of wishes, hopes or desires.

A few weeks ago, I had a chat with my son about happiness. There are always times in life when it seems elusive, and times when we feel we’re on a perpetual hunt that will never end. But the truth is that happiness isn’t something we chase. We all have it, just as we have that divine spark some call a soul and others refer to by different names.

Happiness is our right and we own it. But like everything else in life, it’s subject to our own free will. We choose to be happy–or not to be happy. And so my advice to my son was to make a conscious decision every morning on awakening, before putting his feet on the floor. For that day, choose to be happy. For that day, claim your divine right.

Claiming happiness doesn’t mean that you won’t be confronted with challenges. It does mean that when you’re confronted with them you’ll be in a better state to deal with them in a manner that doesn’t drag you through hell. It doesn’t mean you’ll fake a perpetual sense of joy that you don’t really feel.

Claiming your right to be happy is an attitude. It’s accepting that wherever you are on your path, you have faith that it is exactly where you’re supposed to be. It’s knowing that no matter what happens, you can get through it without going into self-destruct mode. It’s believing in you.

And once you believe in you, then you take better care of you. You give yourself the same respect and care and nurturing that you give others. It’s amazing how few of us do that. We break our necks and bust our asses to do for others, but hesitate or feel guilty about doing for ourselves. That mindset embraces a lack of self-respect, and each of deserves better–and we can have it. We need only claim it.

Once we do that, claim care for ourselves, we look at things more gently, and that enables us to then really care about others. It’s at that point that we can do most for ourselves and them.

I was reminded last night, by watching an episode of EXTREME MAKEOVER, Home Edition–I so hope I got the program name right. Just in case, it’s hosted by Ty, formerly of Trading Spaces. Anyway, I was reminded by this program that one doesn’t have to wait for optimum conditions to help others. One can do so at any time.

This was an “After the Storm” segment that followed the life of a woman after Hurricane Katrina. She’s an African-American woman known in her community as Big Mama. Before the storm, Big Mama and her three young sons lived in a fish market. They slept on the floor. Then Hurricane Katrina hit and Big Mama proved she had a big heart.

She pulled out food and began cooking. And she cooked, and cooked, and cooked. She fed as many as two thousand, and she worked with the children to make their after-the-storm lives less traumatic. And she became the stabilizer in her community, the one who led by example, showing others the way back to a more normal life.

Last night, Ty and his crew (aided by an awful lot of workers and corporate sponsors) built and furnished Big Mama a community center, where she could continue to do the wonderful work she’d been doing. There were places for the children to play safely, bedrooms for her and her own children, and clearly a treasure she admired most–a new, huge grill. She could continue to cook, and funds were provided for her to assure it.

When this woman began, she had virtually nothing. When she ran out of food, others appeared with it. When someone mentioned a need, she sought to fill it. She acted in faith, believing she’d receive what she needed to do the work she’d chosen to do. And she has–for herself, and for others.

I think there’s a message in that for all of us. One that touched me deeply and I won’t be forgetting.

Today, when I woke up, before I put my feet on the floor, I claimed happiness. The kind of happiness I saw in Big Mama’s eyes when she saw her new grill.

All morning, I’ve been smiling to myself, remembering the childlike joy in her face. And when I walked into my office, and I saw my little sign about when I grow up, I whispered to myself, “I want to be a fairy godmother–just like Big Mama.”



Vicki Hinze



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