Art Journal: Fairy Tale Ending


Many recent events have really brought me to long for a fairy tale I thought I had.

Being a big idealist sometimes, I pictured my future perfectly planned out. If one little thing didn’t pan out, it was alright! I still had the rest! Now, my entire plan has been removed.

I’m out in the open, exposed. I thought I was writing my own fairy tale. I thought I had ALREADY written it. I thought it was set in concrete brick in front of the castle that was myself.

Unfortunately for (current) Mandi… recent events one after the other led me to doubt everything. My castle wasn’t just shaken… after so long, it didn’t even exist anymore.

There I stood, dressed in rags, with only a shattered pumpkin and a lizard to show for my plans… with one glassy reminder of the life I once had shining in my memory.


My fairy tale was full of magic. In collaging this piece, I tried to show that through sparkling details, beautiful natural depictions (of my kingdom, of course…), and snippets of music.

As most would assume, I lived a charmed life. Most would say I still do. I don’t deny that I have been unbelievably blessed by the gifts of health, family, prosperity, ability, etc. etc. etc.

I can also not deny how hard I have been struggling internally in spite of all of this.

In making this spread, I was trying to tap into this continuum. I was trying to understand that I had not left the magical land yet… that I was only experiencing a different part of it.

I am constantly searching for ways to broaden my perspective. I hope you can suspend judgement. In facing my struggle, it is my greatest ambition to embody gratitude.

Dealing with a mental illness can make gratitude a very, very difficult concept to see at times.

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Trying to be kind to myself during a particularly difficult week of classes, I told myself that if I could only make it to Friday afternoon, I would give myself a small reward.

I armed myself with a five dollar bill (only) and took myself on a crafter’s date to the nearby “Scrap” store– a thrift store for craft items. This place is like heaven on earth.

I spent an hour sorting through the piles and piles of treasures to choose five dollars worth that I would bring home with me– which included the gorgeous shimmery copper paint you see on the edges, some fairy-tale themed scrapbook paper pieces, and other things.

These pages were my treat after such a hard week. It’s the little things, y’all.


To complete this spread, I wrote myself a fairy tale. I wrote out my own fairy tale– the tale of my life up until this point.

As I wrote, I contemplated writing out my desired ending… but something strongly held me back from that thought. Writing out a desired ending would be just like before. I would be solidifying in my mind the false certainty of a plan.

I would not just be wishing– I would be BANKING on that ending to see me through. What if that ending didn’t happen? What if my fairy tale was ruined again?


A week or so ago during a particularly hard day, I called one of my best friends in tears over all that had happened. She gave me the sweetest, best advice that truly meant so much to me:

“Mandi, treat yourself well and go watch Disney movies. Because your fairy tale is NOT over.”

She’s right. It’s not. It’s still going. I just haven’t yet happened upon my happily ever after. So, I left my fairy tale unfinished.

Unfinished means hopeful. Unfinished means flexible. Unfinished is a pleasant “we’ll see.”

I have not yet found my fairy-tale ending… but I still believe that it is coming for me.

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
Neil Gaiman


One Comment

  1. Sweetheart, if I could just give you a tiny bit of advice to hold in your heart…your life is not just one fairy tale, it is a collection of tales, some happy, some sad and we never know what its going to be until the end of the tale. We must have the sad tales to better understand the happy tales. I have just finished a very long happy tale in my life and although it did not end the way I wanted at all, it was most certainly a happily ever after tale…. I look forward to the next one in my collection of tales.

    Keep your head up, you are a beautiful strong young woman who has it in your power to do great things. You are on a very long journey, so arm yourself with all the things that make you strong. My prayers for you are that you will endure and learn to love every tale, even the ones that don’t end like we want them to.

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