Life is Not A Fairy Tale. Or is it?

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In the fairy tales of my childhood, characters found their way to the “happily ever after” through bravery and imagination. Since growing up, I’ve realized how much courage it takes to use active, focused imagination to answer deeper questions like Who am I? Why am I here? What is the purpose and meaning of my life?

For me, the Storyteller archetype is a protective figure – a wise elder who knows the power of thoughts, the vulnerabilities of being truthful, and the aloneness of existence. She also understands that stories can change people, heal shame, free us from fear, ease our suffering and restore our sense of worth.

In my Tales of Enchantment, the Old Gypsy Storyteller creates folkloric stories that brim with life truths. As she travels the “road to paradise” her fanciful tales speak in a symbolic way. I love the way she gives animals and objects touch of magic and wonder  She bridges the realities of my inner Self to my search for wholeness, truth, beauty, love and goodness in the outer world.

Now that you know my motivation for creating this book, you might like to try a one page or even one paragraph fairy tale from your own life and use this altered-point-of-view. In the book Your Life as Story by Tristine Rainer, the author tells us that stories are created from three essential ingredients. We intuitively know this structure is true for telling stories from our lived experience as well. Most of us are familiar with a beginning, middle and conclusion arrangement and my Old Gypsy Storyteller has made use of this in her tales.

Here are the steps.

Something happened so that a person (a little girl, a little boy, a woman, an old man – he or she) had a problem and a need. I found it helpful to use the third person to temporarily step back from real life.

As the person pursued his or her need, a struggle ensued.

And in the end the person changed with a realization.

Your turn! Just begin, Once upon a time…

 

 

Hard copies of The Storyteller: True Tales of Enchantment have arrived! Visit the books page to purchase your autographed copy.

 

 

History in your Hands

Erich Maria Remarque once said in his novel A Night in Lisbon, “How can we be really sure of our happiness until we know how much of it is going to stay with us?” “The only way,” Schwarz whispered, “is to know that we can’t hold it, and stop trying to. We frighten it away with our clumsy hands. But if we can keep our hands off it, won’t it go on living fearlessly behind our eyes? Won’t it stay there as long as our eyes live?”

We frighten happiness away with our clumsy hands…Wow! If you think about it, history shows up in your hands and in them, what makes us happy, and it provides understanding of our ability to keep on living fearlessly.

I often look at people’s hands and nails. They speak loudly about what is important to them. Short, manicured nails speak of massage; artsy nails, glamour; broad hands, caring for the ones we love; soft hands, gentleness; scars, our wounds as we work; burns, our love of cooking; arthritic knuckles, our aging; callouses, our ability to play guitar; dirt under the nails, the joy of gardening; smooth, soft skin, youth and innocence; broken and split nails, neglect; vertical ridges, illness.

Take a look at your hands right now. Really study them. Write a few lines about your hands and see where it goes.

Koffee with Kathie

“It is story that saves us. –

Sandra Benitez in A Place Where the Sea Remembers

 

The older I get, the more I wonder about my life legacy and the values I will leave behind one day. In recent months, when I am with older people, especially my old friends at the lodge, I am aware of time passing, how hours and days disappear. I notice the weeks and years flying by, and I feel my mortality.

I visit the Lodge once a month as a volunteer. In my Koffee with Kathie Reminiscence Group, the elderly residents bring me face-to-face with the fragility of life. I am privy to the joys and difficulties of growing old. Brain function diminishes, eyesight dims, thoughts lose clarity; bodies fail; friends die. Some of them are complainers who are dissatisfied with the food, the company at dinner, or simply with the weather. And then there are those who appreciate bread pudding with whipped cream for dessert, apartments with walk in tubs and housekeeping staff who make their beds each day. This group laughs and their eyes crinkle and their smiles reveal gaps where teeth should be. Moments of delight at the small things makes it all bearable. The twinkle in their eyes brings me happiness.

I’m convinced delight is the precursor to a long life. At my sessions, whether they are telling stories about women’s work like sewing or cooking, clothing fashions in 1935, gardening on the farm or favourite Christmas traditions, the conversation turns to childlike pleasure at memories from long ago.

I’m beginning to do this myself when I recollect events from my own past.

In a speech for my local Toastmasters group, I re-enacted an event from my life when I was a naive 12-year-old enamoured of a biology lesson on reproduction in fish! When I spoke about my coming of age, I could appreciate a childlike innocence so unlike the worldly view of life children now.

When I am with elderly people who are bitter and resentful, I wonder if it is because all their lives they have felt invisible and unheard. There are those who, at this late stage in life, still harbour ill feelings for their mothers or grieve brothers killed in World War II. How sad they are unable to savour the pleasure of bright flowers that decorate the tables, the dance music on Friday afternoons, and the entertainment the recreation staff bring them every day.

I believe we all desire a life in which we feel loved and at peace. If there a gift in memory loss, perhaps it is living in a facility where other residents become like family. Perhaps, it is the gift of story told in the moment that creates healing. Perhaps it really is story that saves us.