Jessielah!

adventures in awesomeness…

Something to Feel Good About

Now, I was worried when I put on Akeelah and the Bee and I saw previews for Arthur’s Missing Pal and other bad kids movies. But five minutes in, I was hooked.

Akeelah Anderson is an 11-year-old “girl from the hood” who took up spelling after her father was killed. She’s got a “mind like a sponge” and can spell just about anything after seeing it once. But she lives in a bad part of town, has an overworked mom who has to deal with four kids, one who is getting involved with gangs, and is subject to the typical “smart-but-poor kid rises up” scenario. The plot seems pretty rote and run of the mill and the movie predictor person inside of me is just waiting for something bad to happen, like the death of her brother who is getting mixed up in gangs. It seems to follow what they have set up. From her second loss and her family’s pain, little Akeelah will be able to rise up and overcome all of the stereotypes of the ‘hood and win the spelling bee.

But that’s not what happens. It’s something much more inspirational. Instead of her brother getting shot up in a drive by, he’s forced to help his sister study by the local “gang boss”. Her mom suddenly has time and she (and the whole neighborhood, even the grocer and the friendly homeless guy) rally around her to help Akeelah learn 5,000 words to prepare for nationals. She learns them in record time, and then her coach, who ditched her after an inability to cope with his own familial hardships, sucks it up, and comes through for Akeelah too. They all fly to DC and she wins the spelling bee – actually it’s a tie between her and Dylan, a two-time second place champion who has a “you-win-first-place-or-you-are-disowned” father. (The father ends up being proud of his son.)

It was magical. Finally a movie about a seemingly down-and-out kid who makes it despite the odds, but doesn’t have to have the whole kitchen sink thrown at her. I mean, isn’t living in a bad part of town and having only one parent enough? Does an 11 year really need to overcome MORE adversity? I like that Akeelah wins because she is no longer afraid to win – and that’s it.

There’s a quote in the movie that when I heard, my mouth dropped agape. It was the quote by Marianne Williamson that I used in one of my blogs:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

Bottom Line: Movies that make you feel good without running your mascara are awesome.

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5 Steps To Unleash Your Awesome.

1. Get Enough Sleep. I know the Sealy Posturepedic commercials tell you that since you can only get six hours, you’d better buy their $1000 mattress to get a “better six”. Really though, you should aim 8, 9, or (if you’re Ruby) 12. It will be nearly impossible to unleash your awesome if you have to guzzle multiple cups of Joe to stay awake. Be good to yourself, skip a night of American Idol or Farmville and get a good night’s sleep.

2. Hit the Ground Running. There is a reason we are supposed to exercise. It makes you feel good. I am convinced that at least half the people on anti-depressants can alleviate most of their depression by eating better, drinking more water, and getting exercise. Fresh air is good. Sunshine (in small amounts – thanks global warming) is good. So go for a walk, hit the gym, pop in that Billy Blanks DVD and Taebo your self into a better mood.

3. Confront Your Fears. “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” – Marianne Williamson This hit home.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is how most of us think. I know so many people who have so much potential for greatness, that it isn’t even funny. It’s not that we are so afraid to fail, but that we are too afraid to succeed. One day after a terrible (TERRIBLE) rehearsal, my opera director says to me: What is wrong with you? Your career is taking off like a rocket ship. Don’t let it leave without you. That has always haunted me. I OFTEN purposefully sabotage myself. Not because I am afraid of failure, but because I’m afraid of what will happen when I succeed?

4. Realize the Workload. Yes, it’s hard. We all would rather being shopping with Paris Hilton’s credit card, chatting on Gmail, or watching Top Chef episodes on Hulu. However, in order to unleash the awesome, it takes work. Hard resume-writing work. You have to practice, every day. You have to give up the Chick-fil-A Ice Dream cones (sigh). You have to run like your life depends on it. And when I say you, I mean me.

5. Do It! What is your idea of awesome? Singing? Writing? Staining that table that you built four months ago? Just get up and do it! Put on some eye liner and kick some ass. Sometimes, unleashing your awesome is like brushing your teeth or doing the dishes. You don’t want to do it. But you know you have to. Eventually you just tackle it like a hot guy lying naked on your bed. Grrowhrr!

Awesome unleashed.

And for those who are curious…. I have 3 days to my first audition in three years. Not only do I plan to rock it. I WILL rock it.

Ciao!

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