These days the world is so obsessed with the idea of “story.” Marketing strategists have realized that the strongest way to “hook” audience attention is through story. So many social media streams are engineering ways for you to craft and share your story. Story captures our imagination and invests us in a way that facts and figures never will.
If you have children, or are an aunt or uncle, or any kind of guardian to young ones, you have probably encountered the necessity of telling stories too. Kids love stories so much! They want story after story to be read or told to them. Through stories they learn about the world and develop their imaginations.
When I was little my dad used to tell me and my sister a series of stories based around a character named Janine. She would go on all kinds of adventures in her neighborhood (one strangely similar to the one we lived in). Hearing a “Janine Story” was a wonderful treat. Better than any book that was pre-written.
Now that I’m an Auntie and Godmother, I am looking at the power of story in a different way. I do not get nearly enough time with my little nieces Emilia and Sienna, and my Goddaughter Sage. So how can I maximize my offerings to them? How can I give them my unique tools to help them access independence, confidence, creativity and navigate the world? I have got to tell them stories.
I am amassing a bunch of stories about females coming of age from the books Women Who Run With the Wolves and Eating By the Light of the Moon. Both of those books contain excellent stories showing what it means to find and take care of yourself as a woman in the world. But a lot of them are still a little bit “mature” for the girls.
It is probably impossible to know how damaging some of those Disney stories were for me as a child, but I am certain their messages ran deep. They lead me to believe that my outer beauty is the only thing that will cause a “prince” to want me. They implanted the idea that my adult life doesn’t start until a man has chosen me. They have caused me to objectify men as means of financial support and the main source of approval for my self esteem. Those stories have needed some serious undoing!
I can’t imagine how confusing they must be for someone who is gay. There aren’t even any stories in the mainstream about same-sex love. I hope that is changing as I write this.
So this holiday I decided to write a little book for Emilia that can reach her where she is, (two and half years old), with her present predicament of having trouble sleeping through the night. I want to give her simple yoga tools she can rely on for years to come.
Here is the story (with some of my illustrations):
Emilia’s Bedtime Story
One night Emilia was laying awake in bed with her eyes open wondering when she would ever fall asleep.
Then Emilia saw a flutter of little wings in the open window, and a butterfly flew in and landed on her pillow.
“I can’t sleep” Emilia told the butterfly. The butterfly whispered in Emilia’s ear…
“I’ve got an idea” said the butterfly. “Put one of your hands on your belly and see if you can feel is rise up and sink down with every breath you take”
Emilia put her hand on her belly. “You’re right!” She said to the butterfly. “I can feel it going up and down with every breath. It feels wonderful!”
But she still couldn’t sleep.
Then Emilia heard a rustling near the closet and lo and behold…. a little bunny hopped over, and jumped right up onto her bed!
Hi little bunny! Said Emilia. And she was quite surprised when the bunny said “hi little little lady!” In reply.
“I’m having trouble sleeping” said Emilia.
“Feel your heart beating in your chest… can you feel the thump thump thump?” Said the bunny. “Keep listening to it until you get nice and sleepy.”
Emilia focused on what her heart felt like right in the middle of her chest and realized she did feel a thump thump thump! Her heartbeat felt wonderful!
But she still couldn’t sleep.
Then Emilia heard a “scratch scratch scratch” and a little family of mice snuck under the door from the hallway and scurried up onto her bed.
The mouse family climbed right up onto Emilia’s blanket and squeaked, “what’s wrong Emilia?”
“I can’t seem to fall asleep,” she told the mice.
“Oh, we know what will help!” Said one of the mice. “You just need to think about everyone that loves you…”
“First, think about how much your mommy loves you…” Emilia though about her mommy and could feel so much love. It was like a warm blanket wrapped around her.
“Then think about how much your poppy loves you” said the mouse.
Emilia thought about how much her poppy loved her and she felt so warm and happy, like she was sitting on his lap.
“Then think about how much your sister loves you” Emilia thought about all the fun she had with her sister and it made her want to smile.
“Then think about everyone else that loves you…”
Emilia thought about grandma Gracie, and Auntie Airy, and Uncle Mike, and Uncle Galen, and Grandpa Steve, and Grandma Nu, and Grandpa Ron, and Grandma Liz…
There were just so many people that loved her the list went on and on and on. The more she thought about how many people loved her, the more sleepy she got.
Emilia felt so safe and happy, Pretty soon she was fast asleep….
What stories are you telling the children in your life?