The Heroines

Ann H. Mitchell

is honored with a Medium Paver from Marcia L. Alterman, Tina J. Brady, Stephanie L. Breckbill, Kim Bonham, Lory Calentine, Jeanie Casto, Julie Wright Connolly, Alyce M. Davis, Renee M. Ehmke, Jennifer B. Espy, DeAnn "Fish"er, Cindy G. Green, Julie Hauber, Marlene J. Hoglund, Dee Foster Marsh, Denise P. Meredith, Michelle Morales, Carla D. Reed, Gloria Rodriguez, Paula S. Routon, Kim Soule, Karen Townsley, and Julie M. Walter.

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl named Ann Harlan Osborne Paden Sordelet Mitchell. Now Ann didn't always believe she was beautiful and that is why our story begins.

Ann didn't believe she was beautiful, nor did she believe she was lovable. She had a hard time believing people could, or would, ever love her for who she was instead of what she thought they wanted her to be. She spent a lot of time trying on all the masks the different people in her life brought her: "good girl" masks, sexy masks, funny masks, nice masks, mean masks, masks of every shape and size ... but none of them seemed to fit very well. She would wear one for awhile, but then it would get uncomfortable and she would take it off and start searching for another one, hoping every time the next mask would be the one she could wear forever and never have to remove.

This went on for many years. Ann was beginning to lose hope that she would ever find the right mask and was starting to think this was the way her life would always be. She had a difficult time remembering who she had started out to be before the maze of masks had taken over. She was very sad inside.

Then one day, she met her Higher Power. He told her she didn't have to wear a mask any more if she didn't want to and He loved her regardless of what mask she chose to wear. Ann couldn't believe it! Here was someone who actually loved her for who she was, and not for the mask she happened to be wearing! It was a true miracle. Ann's life completely changed. She got different playmates and went to different playgrounds, and found other people there who had also met her Higher Power and believed the same things He did. These new friends also loved her for herself and accepted her unconditionally. Ann felt a little, tiny seed of hope growing inside her that maybe she really was beautiful after all.

The Higher Power told her there were twelve simple things she needed to do if she wanted to be happy, joyous, and free (not to mention beautiful). Ann worked really hard at the steps He had outlined for her and He was there to guide her and hold her hand every step of the way. She was so grateful for the change it made in her life that she wanted to share it with everyone else.

Ann found other women at her new playgrounds who were also wearing masks and invited them to join her on the journey. Some wanted to go, others were too scared or thought the work was too hard. Those who chose to go were rewarded with her experience, strength, and hope which had exceeded anything they had ever known before. She gave them each a key to her new kingdom and loved them unconditionally, since that is how her Higher Power loved her. Each woman holding a key knew they could always find Ann at the end of it. They knew if the journey got scary along the way, she would hold their hand and guide them past the bogeymen lurking in the forest, so that they never had to continue down the path alone.

As she helped these other women, Ann came to realize she didn't have to wear a mask anymore because these women all loved her for who she was, not for any mask she happened to be wearing. They thought she was one of the most beautiful women they had ever met and she wasn't wearing any mask at all! Ann's new friends wished they could find a way to let her know how grateful they were to her for showing them how they could be beautiful too. One day they found a place that was filled with other amazing, wonderful women called The Plaza of Heroines. They decided she should have a place there with them because she was truly, and always would be, a beautiful heroine to them.

September 5, 1998