When Harry Potter Met Warrior Woman…


If you read this blog for more than a couple of days, you will find that I am English.

I moved to California on October 30, 1996.

Seat 49C, Virgin Atlantic flight # VS019 arrived at SFO at 2:50pm to be exact. Not that it was significant or anything.

Five years prior to that or maybe ten, I bought a dress from Marks & Spencer, a flagship British High Street chain.

It was a floaty, swingy, summer dress with tiny flowers printed on it.

I loved that dress.

It was loose, which meant I could gain a few pounds and hide them. It had crinkly fabric, which meant I didn’t need to iron it. It hid. My knees.

I wore that dress over and over for many years but fast forward to 2008 and it was time to say goodbye. It had been worn to death and reincarnated several times but it was now finally the end.

My crinkly dress became a rumpled mess in my upstairs bathroom wastebasket.

One day, last May, a certain friend named Michelle met me. It was our school rummage sale clean-up rave.

The day before we’d had great success, pulling in thousands of $$$.  Doing what it seemed the Governator himself could not – raise money for our children’s education.

Michelle invited me, in her silky way that reminds me of the finest, creamiest chocolate, to clean up books. She insisted I also take home something I fancied.

Initially, I demurred.

Frankly, rummage sale leftovers aren’t very inspiring. But boxing up books isn’t terribly thrilling either. So I decided to take her advice.

I walked around the toys but pieces spilled from puzzles. I walked around the media section but all the Grateful Dead (this is California we’re talking about) CDs were gone.

And then. Gasp. I stopped.

Everything stopped.

My heart. My lungs. The world.

For there, on a hanger, was a very familiar-looking dress.

Surely not? Could it be? I don’t believe it!

It was.

5,000 miles and 17 years later, there, at a rummage sale in California, USA, was an identical floaty, summer M&S dress with tiny flowers printed upon it.

In. My. Size.

I have worn that dress many times in the year since. And told many people my story.

It makes me, and them, smile.

You see, magic happens in the unlikeliest of places; where it’s dusty and dirty and cold.

Our school rummage sale appears a rare place for magic and wizardry. But, as my story shows, if we can spur ourselves into action, accept the hands we’re offered, life can make Harry Potters of us all.

Where is the magic in your life? Can you see it? Are you doing anything to cast some spells, transfigurate yourself or otherwise undertake some sorcery to switch things up?

I am participating in a Blog Every Day For 30 Days Challenge advocated by Chris Brogan. I am doing this with the lovely Mary Ulrich who writes for Parents and Caregivers of Adults with Disabilities at Climbing Every Mountain. Check her out!

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Minnesota Mamaleh September 29, 2010 at 11:59 am

what a wonderful, inspiring posts! i absolutely *love* meant-to-be moments in time! you captured this one perfectly! 🙂


Alison Golden September 29, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Hey there! Thank you. Isn’t it a great story? I still can’t believe it yet I was wearing the dress just yesterday. 🙂


Lisa D Liguori
September 29, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I have seen that dress! And lovely you look in it too!
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Alison Golden September 29, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Thank you Lisa 🙂 Isn’t it funny how our favorite dresses are rarely our most expensive?


MarcIa Reisman September 29, 2010 at 10:14 pm

There are no coincidences. You were born to wear that dress. Love the story.


Alison Golden September 29, 2010 at 10:19 pm

You know, Marcia, you might be right. Every time I wear it, I get a compliment and yet it’s just a regular chain store dress. So maybe it’s *my* dress. Maybe we all have some things we are meant for/to have…


Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach September 30, 2010 at 3:28 am

Love it!

Reminds me of the time I found my childhood book, Artie The Smart (the first book I ever read by myself!) back in 1999 or so. Snapped it up for my child! The oddest thing back then was I *knew* I would find it at that sale. Kinda like my future was foreshadowing me…. 🙂
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Alison Golden September 30, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Thanks, Barbara! And I’m glad you can see the magic in your life, too 🙂


Mary E. Ulrich
September 30, 2010 at 3:31 am

Love this Alison. You couldn’t make up a story like this, it truly is magic.

When you found the dress, I’ll bet your scream of delight could be heard in England.
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Alison Golden September 30, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Hi Mary!

It’s true, you couldn’t make it up. And I didn’t 🙂 And you know what? I didn’t scream. Because I simply couldn’t believe it.


Ann October 6, 2010 at 6:45 am

I love this story! And you are correct in that it did make me smile 🙂

Ann – visiting from SITS!


Alison Golden October 6, 2010 at 7:32 am

Hey Ann!
Good to see you here! And I’m glad I made you smile. Still makes me so after all this time 🙂


Jenni October 24, 2010 at 8:06 pm

I *love* this!

I love that you found your dress- or your dress found you-


Alison Golden October 24, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Hi Jenni:

I think you’re right. The dress found me…Thanks for stopping by 🙂


Angie Atchley
June 29, 2011 at 6:11 am

I’m so happy you found your dress!!! That made my heart smile!!


Alison Golden July 7, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Good, I’m glad. It is *that* kind of story. 🙂


Modern Gypsy June 29, 2011 at 6:46 am

What a lovely story! And you look absolutely stunning in that dress. I can see why you love it so much! 😉


Alison Golden July 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Thank you, Modern Gypsy. And funny, I always get compliments wearing the clothes I paid the least for. 🙂


Mimi June 29, 2011 at 9:34 am

Ok, that is just a really cool story!!


Alison Golden July 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Thanks, Mimi!


Sarah Thacker June 29, 2011 at 4:48 pm

That is awesome! I love how things work! I love having favorite things too. Now when I go to the store, if I find something I truly love I see if they have it in more than one color! 🙂


Alison Golden July 7, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Me too, Sarah!

I recently bought 5 tank tops all the same size and color because I love them so much and they are being discontinued by the manufacturer and I found some sweat pants last year in Old Navy that made me look decent instead of a sack of spuds so another 5 pairs of those too.


DrJulieAnn aka The Modern Retro Woman
June 30, 2011 at 1:59 pm

What a *great* story! I agree with Jeni that the dress found you. 🙂

Also, thank you for the great reminder to create the space for magic to happen. When I open myself up for it, magic happens all around me all of the time!


Alison Golden July 7, 2011 at 3:05 pm

I’m so glad you saw the message in the story, Julie Ann. Magic can happen anywhere not just on the silver screen or pages of a book.


The Damsel in Dis Dress
July 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Great post! Loved it. I find myself wearing “dis” dress a lot more often these days.


Alison Golden July 7, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Good, I’m glad, Damsel.


Mary E. Ulrich
November 30, 2011 at 9:55 pm

This was fun to read a second time. Make Magic, make people happy, make memories.
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Alison Golden December 1, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I came to read this again too. It is a fun read and a cute, true story. 🙂


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