learning to fly again after life clips your wings

Warrior Princess

“Fairytales do not tell children that dragons exist.

They already know.

Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” –Chesterton

Ying Ying: All around this house I see the signs. My daughter looks but she does not see. This is a house that will break into pieces. It’s not too late. All my pains, my regrets, I will gather them together. My daughter will hear me calling, even though I’ve said no words. She will climb the stairs to find me. She will be scared because at first her eyes will see nothing. She will feel in her heart this place where she hides her fears. She will know I am waiting like a tiger in the trees, now ready to leap out and cut her spirit loose.” –Joy Luck Club http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107282/quotes


I will never forget this poignant scene from the movie “Joy Luck Club.” Ying Ying’s daughter acquiesces to a controlling husband who calculates every dime spent in their marriage. He posts a list of expenditures on the refrigerator divided between him and her. Items on the list include ice cream and milk. Their home is pristine, yet cold and clinical like the relationship that exists between them. Ying Ying visits her daughter and reflects. She realizes that her former choices contributed to her daughter’s low self-esteem. She must harness all of her pain and regret to empower her daughter.

I watched “The Joy Luck Club” at a vulnerable time in my life. I was a young single mom freshly divorced from a marriage with an addicted spouse. I needed to heal and rebuild but my fears stalked me in the shadows. My spirit was bound. More heartbreaking than this was the reality that my own daughter’s fate rested upon whether I could break free. I needed to conquer my demons of mind and soul so I could impart courage. I needed to model a different example of what it meant to be a woman.

I wept through this scene in “Joy Luck Club” and promised God and myself that I would do the same as Ying Ying. I would gather my pains and regrets and use them to release my daughter’s spirit so she could make different choices than the ones that ensnared me. I wanted her to become victorious over all that wounded her young soul.

Last weekend, my daughter and I painted masquerade masks. We talked about overcoming as women. I tried to pass on wisdom gleaned from my difficult journey. I shared how I believed that God had a promising life for her. Yet in my heart, I knew that only she could slay her personal dragons.

She painted her mask like a warrior while I painted mine with a theme of love. How interesting, I mused. To truly love others we must first learn to properly care for ourselves. (“Love your neighbor as yourself.” -Matthew 22:39)

I tried to impart more than words. I tried to give her strength of spirit. So many years have passed since the time I watched “The Joy Luck Club.” I’m not the same woman I once was. I am stronger, wiser, and full of faith. I am “…like a tiger in the trees, now ready to leap out and cut her spirit loose.”


26 responses

  1. Elya Filler

    This is an amazing post mom!

    February 23, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    • Thank you Elya! And you are an awesome daughter who fits the mask! You go girl!

      February 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm

  2. This choked me up a bit. B

    February 23, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    • Barb, I just linked this to your facebook page not realizing you already read the post. I thought of you and Kadie! We will prevail and so will our daughters!

      February 23, 2011 at 6:42 pm

  3. Well, amazing how a God can use a movie to help us see something.

    February 23, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    • Shelly, I agree. I also find it interesting that this movie keeps recycling back into my thoughts over the years. I must really need to remind myself of the messages.

      February 23, 2011 at 8:36 pm

  4. Pingback: Warrior Princess — Refrain from the Identical

  5. JoDee,
    Your words reel me in. . .what a story. I love that you are making it a priority to make time with your daughter. I love the passion that comes through in your writing and your photography.

    So, I think I’ve been to three of your blogs! How do you keep up? I struggle to maintain one!

    February 27, 2011 at 11:03 am

    • Thank you for the complement, Amy. I don’t know how I keep up but every time I think of dropping one of them, I get this itch to write a post that fits. I guess I look at them as a way to organize my thoughts even though it means I don’t post on all of them regularly.

      February 27, 2011 at 6:50 pm

  6. JoDee – What a fascinating, beautiful post, almost haunting. That a movie from years ago and a relationship that you’d rather forget could lead to the wisdom that will shape your daughter for the rest of her life.

    And those masks . . . wow!

    February 27, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    • Charity, your way with words amazes me. You expressed the essence of what I tried to resolve in my life. Thank you for helping me to understand my own post.

      February 27, 2011 at 6:52 pm

  7. So beautiful!! You are just so talented. I self published my book on lulu.com – It’s very user friendly…email me if you have any questions…Also, would you mind voting for me in the contest I have posted on my blog? Here’s the link. xoxo


    March 13, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    • Noelle, yes, I will vote. My daughter, Elya, decorated the mask that my other daughter, Andy sculpted. I took the photos. We are a very artsy family. Thank you for the complement.

      March 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm

  8. Yes it’s important to make the gifts of the creator our priority. Our children are indeed the greatest gift he can give. May you get as much of it as she and may you both live long enough to appreciate the time spent. When we are young the time with a parents can seem smothering and it seems only when we grow up a bit do we miss that time. I reflect on it often and many days wish I could return and really appreciate it more. I remember some days I used to just wish it was over now I’d trade any day to go fishing with my dad, cook with my mom and do all the things I once wished were just over. So now I try and it means more but I’ve come to understand the most precious gift we share with one another is our time.

    November 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    • Thanks Michelle,
      My daughter is now grown, 26 years old, and living in Thailand teaching English. I cherish those times we had and appreciate the amazing woman she’s become, so full of strength and creativity.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    • Thanks Michelle,
      My daughter is now grown, 26 years old, and living in Thailand teaching English. I cherish those times we had and appreciate the amazing woman she’s become, so full of strength and creativity.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm

  9. Pingback: Warrior Princess, New Mask Painting in Process — Refrain from the Identical

  10. Pingback: Warrior Princess, New Mask Painting in Process | JoDee Luna's Blog

  11. What a timely poem for me to read at this very moment. I’m sending it on to Kadie as I know she will love it as well.

    November 16, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    • Thanks BFF. The poem continues to strengthen me whenever I reread it and the post.

      November 17, 2013 at 8:27 am

  12. Beautiful pposting. Beautiful masque. I know what does mean, all your story behind those eyes, so warm and positive. I have enjoyed much your process on painting the warrior lady, Somehow a mask avoid us to show our fleshy one, but the loook can be seen. The fleshy one is painted every day, every moment, in a pshychological way. Mostly to produce an appereance that will dtect for ares “who” we are. But is linked to the soul and cheating us alll the time, our needs to make our deepness quite invisible. We are…I love the result of your painting, from beginning to end, and the love you have placed in it for sharing and for expressing your soul. Thanks

    November 17, 2013 at 1:04 am

    • Rosa, thank you for such an insightful and moving comment. You put my feelings into words so beautifully.

      November 17, 2013 at 8:28 am

  13. Donna King

    JoDee, I loved reading this. Your words are so honest and vulnerable, yet with a determined strength of purpose. You have indeed given the gift to Elya of how a woman should live, love and be loved. This has also had an effect on Josiah, as it is apparent that he loves his wife in a healthy and respectful way. I am extremely proud of the journey you have taken, and the accomplishments you’ve made, both personally and professionally; Your parenting, your teaching, your mentoring, your family ties, your writing, your art/creativity, your faith etc. etc. I can tell by the joy you emanate that your heart and soul is fulfilled and contented. Keep up the amazing work, my dear friend. Love and kudos to you always!

    March 9, 2014 at 8:56 am

    • Donna, thank you for the heart-felt comment. Your words stirred so much emotion in me. You expressed the essence and experience of my life so beautifully. Thank you for being such a dear friend and inspirational colleague. My heart is fulfilled and content. God is truly good.

      March 9, 2014 at 10:06 pm

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