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A New “Once Upon a Time”…

“Once upon a time…”

How often have I heard those words? The expression is more about where we were at one point in our lives then where we are now. The implicit meaning is – this is how we did things – once upon a time.

As I listen to my story said aloud or the telling of other stories, I can usually find the place of “once upon a time.” What we believe about our once upon a time will often be played out. We usually go for the familiar or comfort even in the simplest of things, like, that favorite sweatshirt or pair of jeans or what I like to call our “old story” (otherwise known as our deep-rooted story we have believed to be true). What if the story had a different ending?

To see this in practice, I tested out a theory about stories. I told famous fairy tales to 1st – 3rd graders and changed the ending. In the Three Little Pigs, I had the wolf huff and puff to blow down the brick house, only to be exhausted. I had the wolf express that he just wanted some good home cooked food and didn’t know how else to get an invitation from the pigs. “No!” the kids would shout at me. “That’s not how it goes.” When I asked what really happened, I would get a summary of the fairy tale. The children would say the ending exactly as it had been read to them repeatedly.

The next part of my experiment would be to tell a story that most of the students had probably never heard of and I would make up an ending. In this case, they sat at the edge of their seats to see what happened next. And, of course, I would always have a happy ending.

Here was my discovery. When the children had no attachment to the stories, they were very excited about the ending. But when the story was known and told over and over, the ending had to be the way they had memorized it.

I also noticed the stories followed a pattern. The characters would leave to find themselves, to find their families, to escape, or to discover fame or fortune. They would often return realizing everything they needed was already in front of them or inside of them.

The power and meaning of our stories can hold us back or set us free. In Jim Loehr’s book, “The Power of Story”, he reveals that your life is the most important story you will ever tell. Loehr says, “Everyone’s got a story. And thank goodness. Because our capacity to tell stories is, I believe, just about our most profoundest gift.”

So, here is the invitation. First, read or think about your favorite fairy tale. Really listen to it. Then change the ending and notice how you feel.

Second, identify your own story. Start with “once upon a time” and continue writing your “old story.” Once completed, re-write one sentence, one piece, one theme, or even the ending. You have the power to tell, to write, and to share an amazing epic – your new story.

If you would like to learn more about the transformative power of stories and how to powerfully identify and release the old ones and call forth the new ones, then join me May 14 – 17, 2009 for a gathering of Women Wisdom-Keepers.

Visit: http://www.toningtheom.com/events.html#cosmic

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