Lessons in Life and Love from Once Upon a Time

I wasn’t the girl who was hooked on Once Upon a Time from the beginning. I’d recorded it with the intent to watch, but somehow, I never did. Until the end of this last season. What I found was brilliant script writing, fairy tale characters I remembered, but spun to be virtually unrecognizable in the coolest way possible….and some awesome lessons in living and loving well if you paid attention.

If you know anything about fairy tales, you know that there are certain inalienable truths.

According to Shakespeare, “The path of true love never did run smooth.” The folks in Storybrooke, Maine would agree with that. In fact, they don’t even know it, but they’ve been trapped by a curse placed upon them by the evil queen to gain her revenge on Snow White, a local school teacher. Yes, when she activated the curse, she moved her world of magic into our world, a place where magic didn’t exist. In this world, no one remembered who they were or got happy endings…well, not until the “savior” arrived and the curse was broken.

Lesson: True love takes a lot of work, faith (both in yourselves and each other), and sacrifice. Problems and challenges don’t just disappear because you’ve found your true love. In fact, there will be times when you will lose sight of what’s important. In those times, the other part of you will rise up to the challenge–to believe and fight enough for you both.

Charming said it best. “I will always find you.”

Then there are the villains, Regina, the Evil Queen, and Rumplestiltskin…and even, to an extent, Regina’s mother, Cora. They’ve made some terrible, hateful decisions in the name of anger and revenge. But they are capable of love…and when they embrace that rarely used part of their souls, amazing things happen.

Lesson: With the power of love, no one is irredeemable. Flaws are there, and seen, but true love is acceptance, warts and all. Love means letting go of hate and anger, sometimes sacrificing yourself, to put someone else’s happiness and well being above your own.

Sometimes people will lose their way, forget who they are. In Storybrooke, this has happened quite literally. Charming lost his memory, for a while the entire town had no memory of their life in The Enchanted Forest, and Belle literally lost all her memories of Rumplestiltskin and their love. Sometimes losing their way can also be metaphoric. Snow lost sight of who she was in her quest for revenge, Pinnochio forgot his path and his responsibilities, even Red (yes, that’s Little Red Riding Hood) lost sight of the true meaning of family and acceptance when she met her mother.

Lesson: Those who love you will remember who you are and hold on to you. They won’t let you stay lost for long. They’ll remind you of just how important you truly are.

In life, we’re all bound to make mistakes. They don’t have to define us. In Once Upon A Time, Emma had given Henry up for adoption, thinking she had nothing better to offer him. He found her, and she fell in love. He was adopted by Regina, the Evil Queen, who had cast a curse of vengeance against Snow and Charming, Emma’s parents.

Lesson: Everyone has an opportunity to redeem themselves if they’re brave enough to take the chance. Love means owning your mistakes and moving forward. They don’t have to define who you are.

And finally, the most important lesson of all– “True Love is the most powerful magic of all.”

Yes, I’ve definitely got a soft spot for fairy tales. Always have. I love the way these ones are being told and blended into this beautiful tapestry. Are you a Once Upon A Time fan? Are there any lessons from the show that you’d like to impart? Is there another show that’s gotten you hooked? What life/love lessons did you catch?


Love On Fire

“You know, dimples are a form of birth defect,” a boyfriend once told me.

I had been smiling at the time, the deep dimple on my right cheek obvious. I punched him. Most people find that form of “birth defect” cute.

It was also then that I realized for the first time that there’s a vulnerability that comes with opening your heart to a person. Letting them in means showing your imperfections and hoping that somehow they won’t matter. Often I think we’d settle for the imperfections being overlooked, but there’s this part of us, deep down that hopes that somehow the right person will love us not despite our imperfections, but that those things that mar the surface are actually part of our charm.

I’m lucky to have found a man who finds my flaws to be beautiful. He knows I cry at stupid sappy stuff on TV. When it happens he turns his head, looks down at me like he’s the one who lucked out, kisses the top of my head and says “I love you.” When a song I hate comes on the radio he counts in his head to see how long it will take me to change the station, then laughs. He’ll even mispronounce words on purpose just so I’ll correct him…LOL!

The one and only time I set off the fire alarms to our house happened this year. I had been baking a cake for my family and misread the tin instructions, filling it with double the amount of batter it was able to handle. The cake overflowed in the oven causing smoke to billow out everywhere. Our fire alarms are connected to our home security system. In my panic, I accidentally sent the security service to voice mail instead of answering and letting them know it was a fire alarm, prompting a visit by the fire department. My normally unflappable self had disappeared amidst the stress.

At first he tried to tease me into a better mood, but quickly realized it wasn’t going to work this time. Knowing the fire department was on their way, he sent me out to the driveway to handle them. He started airing out the house, calming the dogs while I stood outside and told the fire department that it was an accident and everything was under control. Once the smoke cleared (literally) he tried again to calm me down. Knowing I was frustrated and angry at my mistake, and that I had church early in the morning he sent me off to bed. He re-did the cake for me while I slept.

When someone can love you like that, allowing yourself to be vulnerable to them is easy. I’m lucky. I know it. But I also know I’m not the only lucky one. I’d love to hear some stories centered around flaws…maybe things you’ve found sweet or things that have been done for you to help you feel better… What can I say? Everyone loves a lover…

I think this song best illustrates how sweet that kind of love can be…