Lessons from the Yellow Brick Road

Lessons from the Yellow Brick Road

NOTE: I wrote this essay over a decade ago and delivered it as a speech at a Toastmasters’ Club meeting, after singing a few off-key stanzas of “Over the Rainbow.” (Luckily, musical talent wasn’t a requirement for staying in the club.) Last month, a parenting magazine reprinted my essay. When I arrived home from my cross-country trip, a copy of the magazine reprint was waiting in my tall stack of unopened mail. After my recent adventure, these musings from more than ten years ago seemed once again relevant and meaningful, and I wanted to share them here.

You may remember “Dorothy Gale” simply as a sixteen-year old Judy Garland in the original movie version of The Wizard of Oz. But Dorothy Gale was far more than a starry-eyed Kansas girl in ruby slippers. Dorothy is one of my heroes. Here are some things the girl in the blue gingham dress taught me about life:

1. Exercise your imagination. Dorothy had a fabulous imagination and brilliant Technicolor dreams – emerald cities, Munchkinland, Glinda Goodwitch, Lollipop Guilds, wizards and ruby slippers, talking lions and scarecrows and tinmen, OH MY!

2. Be a good role model. Dorothy always remembered her manners: “How do you do?” and “If you please.” She was courteous even to the rudest of characters.

3. Be flexible. Dorothy adapted to whatever circumstances she found herself in. When she found that she “wasn’t in Kansas anymore”, she picked herself up, looked around, introduced herself, and sang and danced with the locals.

4. Have faith in the journey. Even when the Yellow Brick Road was taking her in circles, she carried on, trusting that as long as she followed the right path, she’d reach her destination.

5. Never be too busy to help others. Though she was anxious to get home, Dorothy took time to pick up a tattered Scarecrow, to oil a rusty Tinman, and to patiently encourage a whining cry-baby of a Cowardly Lion.

6. Have faith in the goodness of others. Dorothy took the advice of the Munchkins, and made a journey of a thousand miles to see a Wizard she had never met, confident he’d be willing to help not only her but all of the others she met along the way. Even when she met the bureaucrat Doorman at the gates of the Emerald City, she had so much confidence in his ability to get her in to see the Wizard that she was sure she’d be home in time for dinner.

7. Be willing to take risks. Dorothy ventured into the unknown with three strangers, facing flying monkeys, haunted trees, wicked witches and Winkies. Dorothy had heart and brains and courage enough for four people!

8. Dare to dream. Dorothy was an unflinching optimist – daring to dream and knowing that somehow, somewhere, even if she had to wait for a rainbow, her dreams would come true.

9. Stand up for yourself and others. Dorothy stood her ground when Miss Gulch tried to take Toto away, and kept those ruby slippers securely on her feet, despite the most horrifying threats from the Wicked Witch of the West. Before she knew of the Lion’s cowardly ways, she took him to task for scaring Toto. She gave the Wizard a good tongue-lashing too, telling him, “If you were really great and powerful, you’d keep your promises!”

10. Remember the treasures you already have in your own backyard. Dorothy was committed to home and family. All she wanted was to get back home – and she did everything she had to do to get there. And, I suppose, like most of us, it took being away from them to realize how much she appreciated her family. “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again,” she said, “I won’t look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

Posted by Melanie Tagged as: book tour

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