In November, in the midst of the holiday ramble from Thanksgiving to Christmas, our baby girl turned 13, surrounded by her aunties, cousins, and sister. We celebrated by kicking the boys out and eating chocolate truffles and plates of butter and sugar formed into lemon raspberry cake. Mafe cleaned the house from top to bottom, literally, wiping down the ceiling and the top of the refrigerator. Then she filled the house with balloons to properly commemorate the important occasion. We brought in a henna artist, and while she worked, we told our stories.

One by one, in the midst of a gathering of beauty, we shared meaning from our stories, and surrounded her in a circle of belonging and support. She will never be afraid of being alone. We gave Chloe the gift of being seen as her unique attributes and talents were called out and recognized.

This girl of mine walks with courage and loyalty, and a fierce determination for justice. She is stubborn and faithful, a jewel. Both beautiful and powerful.


Once upon a time, there was born a princess to an ordinary fellow and his gal. They knew they had been given a special gift, so they surrounded her with every good thing they could imagine. She grew tall, and brave, and sassy. One day the princess woke from a sleep and the world seemed different. The colors were still there, but they wavered some at the edges, and in some places there was black where there had only been gold before. The princess realized that some things were broken, that the meadows also hid places of pain and suffering. This confused the princess because surely she was meant to only live in the golden places. Then her mother shared the secret.

“You cannot always choose your story, my love. And sometimes you will find yourself in places and circumstances that you never would have expected. You cannot always choose the other characters, and there will be heroes and villains both. But you can choose your place in your story. You can choose who you want to be and how you want to respond in moments given to you. So live in a way that you are the hero in your own story, for what you write on those pages will last beyond your final breath.”


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