T his post could be a little confusing because it involves this sweet girl named Grace…but I’ll try to keep things as clear as possible. I mean, who can blame her for having such an incredible name? Her parents obviously have impeccable taste. ;)

Our story starts in a bathroom in Orlando at Universal Studios…but I’ll give some background, first.

My family and I were eating dinner at the Pat O’Brien’s restaurant after spending an incredible day at Harry Potter World. (As a side note, for anyone not familiar with New Orleans – Pat O’Brien’s is a well-known restaurant in the French Quarter and they’ve made the Universal Studios version to be very similar, complete with a piano bar, Cajun food, beer steins hanging from the ceiling…it made me homesick for Nola but in the best way.)

At one point, I made a trip to the restroom. I realize that bathrooms are weird to talk about. For good reason, they tend to be fairly in-and-out places where you attend to some essential things and then get back out to the good stuff (like Taylor Swift being plunked out on a piano). Pretty sure that bathrooms everywhere feel like this:

Well, this little story of mine is here to do just that. I’m ready to give credit where credit is due – because without the bathroom at Pat O’Brien’s I would have never met this amazing little girl, Grace, and her inspiring mom, Lara. Thanks, bathroom!

Here’s what happened: I was washing my hands when I overheard a lady conversing with a little voice in one of the stalls. I gathered that it was a daughter debating with her mom about eating some candy. I smiled at the mom and mentioned that her daughter drove a hard bargain. Her mom was the FRIENDLIEST and started to excitedly explain this “No Candy Challenge” that her daughter had undertaken. She was trying to go without candy for an entire year. She’s about halfway through.

To be clear, it didn’t come across like the mom had pushed this on her daughter – the challenge had come about after one of Grace’s friends had to give up not just candy but ALL SUGAR for health reasons. So the No Candy Challenge grew organically from that and mom was just being super supportive and reminding her daughter of the big goal. Aren’t moms just the best?!?

As I was talking with this amazing lady and deciding that I wanted to be just like her when I become a parent, her little girl popped out of the stall.  She was sweet as could be with an eager smile and freckles across her face. I wanted to give her a million high fives for undertaking such a great challenge (I think she’d also get some high fives from Mr. Carrot, the health nut who likes extreme goals.)

For every month that Grace goes without eating a single piece of candy, she earns $10. If she makes it for the entire year without eating any, then she gets a bonus of $20. So in those moments when she’s tempted, her mom just asks her if that little spike of sugar is worth $30 to her. If Grace is anything like I was as a third grader, that $30 may as well be $1,000. So far, she’s stayed strong. AMAZING, Grace!

As we were talking, MY mom walked through the bathroom door and we all started talking and my mom asked the little girl’s name and it turned out to be Grace and all was right with the world.

Grace’s willpower is an amazing feat, especially when you start to consider all the candy pushers that are out there: the nice bank teller who offers lollipops, the grocery store clerk, favor bags from birthday parties, practically every kid who distributes Valentines (and yes, chocolate counts as candy). I imagine that the world sometimes seems like this to Grace:

If Grace can resist all of the candy pushers when she’s in 3rd grade, can you imagine what she might undertake when she’s 15 or 20? This girl is going to move mountains! Grace, I’m your biggest fan!This has me thinking: what if more kids were encouraged to set big goals, practice delayed gratification, and doggedly pursue hard things?  That would be such a cool world.After giving Grace a big squeeze, my mom and I went back to our table – whereupon we found my 9 year-old brother, William, doing this:

What is William doing? Oh, just basically inhaling the powdered sugar from the plate of beignets. How’s that for contrast? (Please don’t judge my parents. I promise this was a vacation thing.)Grace, once you reach your goal, I think you could take this thing on the road…I happen to know a 4th grader who could benefit having you as a consultant/say-no-to-sugar life coach…If I remember correctly, Grace will reach her goal in June. KEEP IT UP, GRACE, YOU CAN DO IT! If anyone wants to join my cheerleading squad, just leave your encouragement for her in the comments – I know that she’s been checking the blog periodically because I told her that I was going to write about her. How good would it be for her to know that there are lots of people who are on her side?

Also, I’d love to offer some encouragement in the form of mail art to someone in your life who is pursuing a goal who may just need a little boost! (To get an idea about what I’m talking about, you can take a look at some of my previous fan mail to wonderful strangers.) Let me know about them in the comments – I’ll randomly choose one, email you for their name and address, and send them some fan mail. Let’s team up!