From the time we are children, we hear of fairy tales that involve Princesses and their journey throughout their lives to discover their beauty, find their Prince Charming, and live happily ever after. Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty were all fairy tale characters I followed and admired. Today there are more stories of  girls wishing to become Princesses and wait for their Prince Charming true love’s kiss so they can all live happily ever after. Year after year, and generation after generation, young girls are introduced to an array of beautiful princesses with long flowing hair who get to wear beautiful gowns, and all wait and are ultimately rescued by their Prince Charming. Yet there are many stories of Princesses that we tend not to honor but are just as important. I want to share with you two stories about modern day princesses …. Each are very different yet share a very strong commonality.

Princess Ivy was a beautiful and talented young girl from Puerto Rico who had the passion for music. Although she lived in a very low income family, her mother was a pianist and taught Princess Ivy how to play the most beautiful melodies on the piano and her fingers were her gifts. Everyday as a child, Princess Ivy would sit for hours in front of the piano and play until she perfected her talents. Princess Ivy’s mom although poor had a great deal of pride, and before Ivy ever left her house or was seen in public, she was always dressed in newly sewn dresses and her hair was immaculate. It was very important to Princess Ivy’s mom that her daughter presented herself to the outside world as being perfect. But Princess Ivy’s life wasn’t that perfect. She was the daughter of an alcoholic father who became very abusive when he would drink, and her parents struggled to feed the family because food was scarce. Because Princess Ivy’s life had such conflict, she escaped her environment and married young while starting a family of her own.

As Princess Ivy learned lessons through her adult years, she had one wish. To escape her life circumstances and educate herself so she could care for her own children, and most importantly teach her 3 daughters the importance of a good education so they would never have to live the hard life she lived. When Princess Ivy came to the enchanted land of the United States, she had a high school education and a dream. This dream was to ensure she provided her daughters the tools to care for themselves and never have to wait for their Prince Charming to save them.  Princess Ivy worked hard to achieve her goals one by one while her daughters watched in admiration of what determination and believing in a dream would accomplish.

Princess Sierra unlike Princess Ivy did not have a talent for the piano. She could carry a tune but let’s just say that she sang louder than she sang well. Princess Sierra had every possible opportunity for an education and much like Princess Ivy, she came from a very humble background as their family didn’t have a lot of money. However unlike Princess Ivy, Princess Sierra was raised in a family where she was taught to be independent and focus on an education before she could even think about a Prince Charming. Sierra was taught that she needed to focus on becoming the best version of herself and once she found her Prince Charming he would compliment her rather than fill a void within her. If she married her Prince Charming it would be after she gained an education so she could control whether or she lived happily ever after. Through hard work and discipline, Princess Sierra achieved her educational goals and even grew up to be a real live Queen.

Because she learned to focus on setting and achieving new goals, Princess Sierra finally got to wear beautifully adorned gowns across many stages, and had many sparkling tiaras adorning her room. She discovered a sense of empowerment through every dream she achieved and credited her mother, Princess Ivy with instilling within her the ability to validate herself and stay true to nurturing her own sense of confidence. Although Princess Ivy became ill and later passed away, she taught Princess Sierra that any dream is possible and she alone had the power to create the story of her own life with or without her Prince Charming.

You see, although Princess Ivy and Princess Sierra were very different in upbringing – they were also very much alike. Princess Ivy became a queen by learning how to transform herself through tools that not only allowed her to be empowered, but to empower others. Just one of her accomplishments was teaching her daughter, Princess Sierra how to be a Queen by who she was – not by who she married. Princess Ivy was my mother Ilva, and her life lessons empowered me to discover my voice and ultimately helped me realize I can become anything I want to be…. even a real live princess. Yet I was not defined as a Princess by finding my Prince Charming, I was defined as a Princess because I was always striving to be a Queen for our King. Every day I woke up I made it a mission to become a better version of myself so one day I could stand among another group of Queens who too are preparing themselves for their King.

Every little girl has the power to create her own fairy tale and how she learns to empower herself will determine how she creates her life page by page. Teaching young girls the tools to validate themselves, honor their bodies, and develop their minds to reach their greatest potential is something that being in pageantry has taught me. Often God uses us as conduits for change and reminds us that although it may appear we are each very different…as children of one Creator, we are all the same. Abundance in anything we desire to experience is our birthright, and reminding even just one soul of their own greatness grants them permission to be their great and abundant self.