Graditude is key for a Cinderella wanna-be

Graditude is key for a Cinderella wanna-be

December 2, 2014 Articles 0 Comments

Ashland Daily Tidings
November 28, 2014

“I don’t want you to go out to that house. It’s dangerous. If you aren’t back by noon, I am calling the police.” The school principal was worried. I was determined to do an in-home visit to meet the family of the girl I was working with. At the age of 7, no other children would play with her. She wore tattered clothes, smelled like urine and introduced lice into the school. Her spirit was sweet but she was sad and lonely.

No counselors had ever made it into her home where drugs, rifles and a “no trespassing” mentality prevailed. I was determined. I baked zucchini muffins, then drove up to a trash dump outside an unkempt trailer. House noise hushed when I knocked on the door. Smelling the muffins kept me calm.

The door cracked open. I smiled, offering fresh muffins with an uplifting greeting. “Hi. I’m Dee’s counselor. I baked these for you. Silence. The door squeaked, opening slightly to take the muffins across the threshold. Smiling, I added, “Dee has some really special qualities. I think she will do well.” Tension released. Door opened. Shotgun in the corner kept company with rotten food, trash and miscellaneous filth.

I spoke of Dee’s creativity and her delightful spirit. They chowed down on muffins and listened. The next visit I took Dee, asking to see her room. She smelled like urine because she wet the bed every night. Her very old twin bed had a rotting, rusted frame. The stinking mattress was urine-soaked. Lice and odor concerns were now answered. Next steps: Get new bed donated with mattress; teach Dee how to “smell” herself, buy her soap, teach her to smell what “clean” smelled like, train her to wash herself every day; develop plan to stop wetting the bed, provide clothes, train parents to be cleaner and help Dee stay clean and lice-free, build Dee’s self-confidence, and design steps to be socially acceptable.

Dress-ups with a mirror are part of my counseling space. Dee always wore the same dress-ups in sessions, repeatedly acting out Cinderella. She appointed me as the mean step-mom and sisters. She stared at her raggedy self, always stopping short of Cinderella.

Months later, Dee donned Cinderella’s dress. She stared at herself in the mirror. Then she turned to me and said, “I know what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a model and make a lot of money. That way I can buy pretty clothes for kids like me so they can feel good about themselves and not be dirty.” She smiled and was happy. Dee discovered an altruistic passion despite all the ridicule and isolation she had experienced. A deep peace settled into her eyes. She felt purpose. She felt whole, didn’t smell, and peers liked her.

“Thank you, Janai, for helping me be happy.” “Oh, sweetie, thank YOU for trusting me and letting me be a part of your life.” Her blue eyes softened, filling with gratitude. The raggedy, smelly 7-year-old girl was gone. She cleansed her restless sadness and isolation. The devoid look on her face had disappeared. Dee was allowed and encouraged to find some answers for herself. In her process, she transformed longing to a magnanimous display of a golden heart that had simply been hidden from view. Her “surface” appearance and ignorance had blocked her from herself. Now she connected the dots to create her own inner peace. Gratitude exuded in her self-realization. I felt honored to be present. And so very grateful.

We are all invited by our spirit’s longing to find our own healing formulas to radiate inner peace. Gratitude is a guiding light. May it shine upon your heart path to inner peace.

Janai Mestrovich, aka “Grandma Boom,” lives in Ashland, is a life coach and international speaker and has taught at the University of Oregon and SOU. Her book is available at Bloomsbury Books, Renaissance Rose and Her website is at

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