As adults we forget how important mentors are to kids. A mentor can be a family dog that shares endless love, a teacher who never forgets to recognize and praise successes, a tree that teaches the comforts of just relaxing in the shade or even a television personality who is always there for a child to come home to. For me, one of my favorite mentors was Lucille Ball.
Oh, what ecstasy in my childhood to finish a dreary Monday by watching Lucy come to grips with her life in hysterical ways! She gave me courage to believe as a little girl that one could overcome adversity, have a life worth living, fill that life with positive emotions and fun, and stay happy even when faced with momentary distress. No one in the world could eat as many chocolates as fast as Lucy, working on an assembly line, bake a loaf of bread so large it overtook the kitchen, or carry a smelly cheese onto an international flight, wrapped up as baby! No one could make me laugh so hard!
Lucy has held the key to my humor heart at any time of day or night! Ah, I wish I could find her any time I need her — after a bad day, after bad news, after too big a dinner — after almost any occasion that could be buffered by a good laugh, and a comforting sense of the familiar.
What was her magic? How has she managed to take me to my Enchanted Self since I was a 10-year-old child, watching her in Fairfield, Connecticut on Monday nights? How has she engendered positive states of being again and again?
First of all, for most of us over 25, Lucy has become part of our history. She was always there, on a snow day, a day of illness, a late night when one couldn’t sleep. If you were lucky and flicked enough stations, there she was. Her smile was infectious, and her ineptness made us all feel comfortable. It was as if she revealed our most embarrassing moments for us. We never had to feel the shame or humiliation of tripping down the stairs with a giant showgirl hat on our heads or try to catch up with the real superman on the ledge to our apartment! Lucy did it for us. Yet, inside of each of us was the youngster that would have given anything to be in a show or looking for superman!
Secondly, she gave us the ‘real’ family that had a lot going for it, which not all of us had. They really seemed to love each other, they had good friends, they always made up when they fought, and nothing happened that was truly devastating. Silly mistakes were just that, and grudges were not held! They got to travel and meet famous people and eat in fancy restaurants! And, they had a baby and everyone was happy and loved the baby and no one was jealous. Lastly, they got to move up in life when they finally moved to the suburbs into a big house with lots of land and funny happenings. They even raised chickens!
What a beautiful world Lucy and her gang recreated for us. It was our country, our way of life, but on top of the familiar were humor, love, and always recovery from problems or embarrassments. In her own way she created positive psychology, before it had a name, for kids, tweens and teens.
In essence, she made the familiar the best it could be! She helped us live in our imaginations for a while, yet kept us earthbound at the same time. Yes, we were in states of well being, again and again — which is what THE ENCHANTED SELF is all about.
I realize now that she was one of my most important mentors. She was as important as Laura in Little House on The Prairie, one of the best books for girls that I ever read. Laura came to like in her books. Lucy came to life on our black and while tv screen. Thanks, Lucy! I hope I see you stuffing chocolates into your mouth again soon, so I can feel good about my silly moments and have another wonderful belly laugh!