One of my amazing students recommended Clarissa Pinkola Estes’s lecture, Warming the Stone Child. Towards the end of Estes’s talk, she asks the listener: What was your favorite fairytale or story as a child? Did the story have a negative or positive ending? Consider this story is your own person myth. That it has in some way laid a foundation for what you believe about your life. It’s neither good nor bad, just acknowledge it has had some influence. This was such a profound moment for me. My own favorite story was Cinderella. I loved the glamor and the magic of this story. It has indeed been imprinted on my psyche. So I took it apart to see the different themes that ran thru my life. Then I began to rewrite the story as an affirmation. I don’t want to live outdated programming that is toxic. It has been a powerful exercise. I highly recommend it. It costs you nothing to ask yourself these questions and then to sit for a bit and re-write it.
As a child my story was Cinderella, as a teenager it was Pretty Woman. Imagine that! Same fucking story!
The positive, you are magical and beautiful despite what you have been through. You should fight for your place in the world and who says those hard working girls in poverty don’t deserve a fabulous night out! I could go on and on. I am looking at what this story taught me about my strength and power and also how did it limit me. Please try it. Maybe at your next dinner party? My partner does this thing where you tell her your favorite ice-cream and she “reads” it. Tells you all about your inner most thoughts via the ice cream flavor analysis. I make her do it at dinner parties for fun. Maybe you can do this one instead.
My deep Cinderella thoughts:
Cinderella endures loss, grief and there is plenty of misunderstanding of who she is. A total loss of loving parents and her identity. When faced with darkness she remains noble, hard working and humble. She endures oppression, scarcity and rises up eventually because the shoe fits. She has secret animal friends that love her and she’s good at finding joy and love wherever she can. Then she’s tricked into thinking she can attend the ball. It’s a cruel trick! I remember those cruel tricks played on me in childhood. Do you have those too? When I was all open-hearted, in my vulnerability and then it turned into feeling humiliated.
Cinderella lost her identity: Her name was changed because she had to sleep in the fireplace to keep warm and she was always dirty.
My name was so difficult for people to say as a kid I remember always feeling like my name was from another world.
I loved the fairy godmother part. In her darkest hour she has an angel that appears. When I was abandoned by my traveling companion in a foreign country because I wouldn’t have sex with him at the age of 19, I had my first experience with angelic help. It enabled me to tap into an inner strength, to hold my principles and self love in place as I navigated my way home to the US. I was scared. And when my mother died (I was 23), I asked a dear friend if she would be my GodMother. Her name is Maria and her home became a safe haven when I left my abusive husband at 26 years of age. Maria’s home, like the dress Cinderella wore that evening, had an expiration date and soon I needed to make my own place in the world. I had two wonderful women Marci and Theresa that both lent me money to pay for that divorce. This is my Cinderella story. My fairy Godmothers have been there for me.
The part about the shoe fitting? The glass slipper? That’s the incognito part of my life. People often think I am younger and not very wise when they meet me. I have a history of not being seen. (I bet you can relate.) This Cinderella story influenced my incognito part. She shows up at the ball and no one knows she’s really a total badass, they think she’s a “lady”.
When I was pregnant with my second child, two new acquaintances were chatting with me about being pregnant and being a mother. They offered unsolicited advice for about 45 minutes. All the while they have never asked me if this was my first child. People just see me and assume I don’t know who I am or what I’m doing. It happens to me ALL the time. (I’m almost 40 and it still happens.) I listened kindly and reflected back to them their own experiences, until they felt thoroughly seen and heard. Suddenly one of them realizes, they never asked me if this is my first child. I answered, “This is my second, I have a nine year old.” They were shocked as they both had one child under the age of mine. So if anything they should have been asking me questions. I have learned over the years to let people think whatever they need to think about me.
I know you might be reading this and thinking, ‘But you are Liliana Barzola, I come to you all the time for advice. How is it possible the world doesn’t see you?’
I refuse to fall into the game of proving myself. Aren’t you tired of this old trick? I am.
It used to make me sad. Now it makes me laugh. It’s funny to me. I embody the goddess and I know it. That’s all that matters at this point in my life.
Recently, my partner and I walked into a New Age shop full of crystals. A very arrogant woman at the counter treated me like I had no idea what I was doing there. She felt spiritually superior and made it known to me that she was full of intuition and magic and that I was a measly muggle. I said nothing and just let her feel her spiritual superiority over me. When we left my partner was furious. ‘She has no idea who you are! That’s like Michael Jackson walks into a music studio and some kid behind the counter starts giving him music tips. WFT!?!?’
I am a polar bear and she is a kitten. I don’t need to roar unless there is danger. People see my light and are threatened. I feel for them. That’s not for me to teach them. I’m off of work. If someone thinks I’m a boring and one dimensional that’s fine with me. They can make an appointment to work through their insecurity.
So what is your version of your favorite story? How has it influenced your life?If you want to play around with this project I made you a worksheet click here.