If I Were Queen of the Forest …

October 29, 2010 by  
Filed under A-ha! Space, Guest Space

I am so thrilled to again share the amazing writing of Carla Cummins Thomas (aka Chania Girl) with you this week! More about Carla below.

Courage - Calm Space October 2010
When I was a little girl, one of my favorite films was The Wizard of Oz. Actually, even now, as an almost-35-year-old adult, it is still one of my favorite films. Every year, once a year, one of the network channels in the United States would air a special presentation of Victor Fleming’s classic, and days in advance I would already be anticipating me in the dimmed living room with a big bowl of buttery popcorn listening to the opening roar of the MGM lion. As the opening score began, I knew that something special was in store, and for the next two hours I was transported to a magical place, somewhere over the rainbow.

Growing up, my least favorite Oz character was the Cowardly Lion. While I could relate to Dorothy (indeed, I wanted to be her), laugh with the Scarecrow, and cry with the Tin Man, I thought the Cowardly Lion was dumb and silly and made stupid jokes. I always heaved a bit of a sigh when it was time for the Cowardly Lion to make his appearance onscreen and finally join the little party making its way to the Emerald City. But over the years, I have somehow managed to find a soft spot in my heart for the Cowardly Lion, whose sole heart’s desire is a bit of courage. And isn’t that something we’d all like to have a bit of every now and again?

In the concrete jungle of today’s world, we still come up against our own lions and tigers and bears. And when we do, the thing we may most want to do is run. Maybe we even do run … back to our caves, our sanctuaries, or any place where we feel less challenged, less out of control. Somewhere where we feel safe. Sometimes this is the best thing we can do. It protects us from unnecessary dangers and preserves us to “fight” another day. But at what point does our flight reflex put us in serious peril of becoming Cowardly Lions ourselves – boasting and bragging and playing the part of King (or Queen) of the Jungle, when all along we are deathly afraid of almost anything and everything around us, snapping and biting at even the smallest things? At what point are we no longer proud lions but, instead, nothing more than fraidy cats? Don’t we know that we are destined for more than this?

Watching The Wizard of Oz, one of the things most peculiar to me about the Cowardly Lion was how quickly he would often find himself crying right along with the Tin Man, especially if anything bad happened to Dorothy or to Toto. He was a big softie, a big putty-tat in that regard, but it was also this “soft spot” for Dorothy that eventually gave him his strength to rescue her from the Wicked Witch of the West. His heart, as it were, was what gave him his courage.

And this is only fitting. For you see, in today’s world we sometimes forget about the history that our words carry with them, what our words really mean. And our word for that quality of spirit that enables us to face dangers, difficulties, and pain without fear begins with the heart: courage from the Latin root cor – HEART.

When we begin and end our actions with the language of the heart – the language of OUR hearts – when we follow our hearts, we are much more apt to find ourselves standing up against our own lions and tigers and bears armed with the courage of our convictions. We know what we believe. We know what we love. We know what we are passionate about. And that gives us the strength to stand and fight rather than run. And it is when we stand and fight and face our beasts that we finally live out the royal, queenly personages we really are.

As most of you know, the beautiful trick of The Wizard of Oz is that at the end of Dorothy’s quest, she and her companions finally discover that the things they were seeking were things that they had all along. The Cowardly Lion had always had his courage. He just had to find it.

Can you find your courage today?

(Hint: It may begin with following your heart.)

photo credit: of courage undaunted by Margo Conner


Carla Cummins Thomas PhotoCarla Cummins Thomas is “Chania Girl” at her own little blogling, Living Happiness, a personal blog about her daily life. She has taken the summer off, though, to enjoy some time by the sea and in the company of friends and loved ones.

When she is not involved in these pursuits, she is also an EFL teacher in Crete and an online grammar and writing instructor for the University of Maryland’s University College program.

You can follow Carla and Living Happiness on Facebook and on Twitter.


15 Responses to “If I Were Queen of the Forest …”
  1. I wrote of courage this week – the personal courage to give to ourselves. Last night, after reading Umbrella Summer, my daughter talked about the challenge of her brain and her heart being of a different mind. She has to find the strength to choose one – and for anyone, especially someone not yet 11, this can be a challenge. She danced in the Wizard of Oz this past spring – identifying with Dorothy on her journey and the Lion and his quest to find courage… Like the lion, she is compassion and full of empathy and sensitive emotions… Like the Lion, she has to find the strength and courage to follow her heart.

  2. Bo Mackison says:

    I love this – the courage of the heart. A lot to think over, many wise words. Thanks.

  3. Chania Girl says:

    @The Exception: It was wonderful to have you visit here today, TE. It’s been a while! Thank you for the beautiful story of your daughter and how she is learning to work out what courage means for herself. With a mother like you, I’ve no doubt that she will … and that her courageous choices will shape her life beautifully.

    @Bo: Bo, I enjoy reading your pieces here at Karen’s space, so it brings me great joy that you enjoyed what I’ve written. Thank you. :D

  4. Joy says:

    Hi Carla,
    So glad to see you here!
    And, I was Dorothy in a school production, wore my red glitter shoes for almost an entire year..would still wear them now if they fit:) Actually think I just traded in my glitter shoes for my new awesome black boots..I do feel they take me anywhere I’d like to go:)
    You wrote exactly what I “needed” to hear..an affirmation to continue to follow my heart..I went to bed feeling awfully sad..yep, peaceful ones still feel sadness..because after a day of healing others rather than feeling the great joy of hope, I felt the overwhelming sadness of “so many more to go, and so little time to touch them”…And I came right back to my ‘den’- in my case hunkered down into my v-berth where the lions, tigers and bears cannot get me…
    And then your words shine right through that layer and inspire me greatly. The last two paragraphs are amazing..
    I *know* what I am passionate about and I will continue to say yes to leading with my heart and sharing the overflowing abundance of Love with All..

  5. Hi Carla,
    So good to hear from you again. I think that’s what I’ve always loved about The Wizard of Oz too, that each of them discovers the quality they were looking for was within their reach the whole time. When we yearn for peace, we need to look within, or love – look within, and courage – look within. All answers are within our grasp if we only look within.

  6. SO lovely to read your words again, Carla! I liked this line the most: “And it is when we stand and fight and face our beasts that we finally live out the royal, queenly personages we really are.” I smile when I think of how many of those beasts are really not so beastly at all but, it takes courage to find that out. Here’s to remembering the strengths that live within. :)

  7. Hello Carla! It’s great to hear from you, and such beautiful words you have written again, so full of wisdom.

    With the theme here at the Calm Space being Courage this month, it has really got me thinking about the true meaning of the word. (Isn’t that the wonderful thing about Káren’s theme’s though…they always get you thinking!)

    I find it interesting that you have said courage is “from the Latin root cor – HEART”. Having concluded for myself that the two, courage and heart, are so closely connected, it is reassuring to have it confirmed. :)

    “When we begin and end our actions with the language of the heart – the language of OUR hearts” – that is sooo important, that we listen to the language of our OWN hearts, as it will never lead us astray.

    Thank you for writing such a beautiful, thought provoking article. :)

  8. Anne Maybus says:

    I really enjoyed this piece, Carla. Thank you. :)

  9. Chania Girl says:

    Hi, ladies. Thank you so much for all of your kind words. I responded to each and every one of you yesterday *TWICE* but my note got lost somewhere in cyberspace so I am going to try again. :)

    @Anne: I am so glad that you enjoyed this piece. I really enjoyed writing it. And there were so MANY more things I wanted to say! Thank you for stopping over here today. :)

    @Joanne: It seems we both had lions on the brain this month, Miss Joanne! I really enjoyed your post, as well, about Christian. Thank you for your words here which always uplift me and encourage me (literally “give me heart). :D

    @Clearly Composed: Oh, CC, how I’ve missed you! It was so great to “see” you today. Thank you for sharing the part in this post that just leapt out at you (a bit like the Cowardly Lion perhaps, no?). That line was the line that most moved me too as I was thinking and writing about the piece. It is so easy to forget — indeed I do forget quite often — that we are all filled with the divine spark and are each holy creatures. We have so much to live into, why should we cower in the face of life? I’m glad this spoke to you. :)

    @Angela: Hi, Angela! Isn’t it amazing how these childhood films and stories can truly stick with us throughout our whole lives? When I was small, I wasn’t tuning into the Wizard of Oz for its deeper philosophical value, but yet that is what continues to draw me to the story over and over again. I used to get upset at the end that Glenda the Good Witch hadn’t sent Dorothy home right away, knowing what she knew. But I’ve realized for me that a lot of the time the journey is absolutely necessary (as difficult as it may be) for me to be prepared to see the truth that was right in front of my face all along. What do you think?

    @Joy: Dearest Joy, why does it not surprise me that you were Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz? :) I can completely see it, and it seems so absolutely fitting of you. I am sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling a bit lately. I think it’s A-okay you’ve needed some regrouping time in your cave (you’ve got a beautiful “cave”!), and I’m sure that when you’ve shored yourself up well and taken care of yourself in the way only you know how, you will be back boldly facing your jungle beasts head-on and filled with all the love in the world. Big hug today. :)

  10. Great post Carla, a lovely slightly quirky but seriously centering reflection on the month’s topic. Love your writing style.
    Warm regards
    Chris Owen

  11. Chania Girl says:

    @Chris: Thank you so much, Chris. Your words are very encouraging to me.

  12. Sara says:

    Carla — It’s been too long since I visited your site. When I stopped by today, I found you over here.

    You know how sometimes you land on just right post at just the right time? I was about to close down and remembered I wanted to visit you. Today was a difficult day for me for a variety of reasons, but I landed here and you were the perfect “Lion” for me. Your post reminded me to have the courage to follow my heart, even if it’s not always specific about where we’re going.

    So, thank you. I am so pleased I didn’t turn off the computer. I am so pleased that you wrote this post about courage. It felt like a hug:~)

  13. Chania Girl says:

    @Sara: Sara, Sara, it’s been a long, long time! It was so very good to see you here today and I’m SO glad that you did not turn off the computer. :) Thank you for encouraging me today with your comment ~ it is amazing to me the way something written days or weeks or even months ago can become just the right thing for someone on the day that they need it? I’ve felt the same before, reading your posts. Here is a big VIRTUAL hug to you today to go along with the literary one. Your heart is an amazing thing, Sara: wherever it leads you, you will have the courage to follow. Believe it! :)