Princess Stories

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A List! A List! I am going to write a list as a response to Jen Louden’s prompt for #Quest2016. Because there is nothing more satisfying than composing a good list. So, here goes (with a few not-so-tongue-in-cheek additions).

Rounding out WEEK 4 of Quest 2016 is personal growth pioneer, JEN LOUDEN. She’s the author of 8 books on well-being and whole living, including her most recent book, A Year of Daily Joy. She believes self-love + world-love = wholeness for all. (Anyone who can include an equation in her bio is a rockstar in my world!)

What’s the story you most desire to bring to life in 2016?   

What’s the story your just-right client reader-buddy and stationery purchaser most desires to bring to life in 2016?

[Oh my god Vanessa, please tell me all about the amazing bedtime stories your Dad told you when you were a little kiddo!]

Where do your two three stories overlap?

Not A List – Princess Stories

When I was a kid, my Dad would come in to my room and tuck me in. I think I always had to be officially tucked in. I couldn’t fall asleep without this ritual. If I snuggled into bed, but it took took long for my parents to finish dishes and walk back to my bedroom, I would fight off sleep and eventually get out of bed and kid-pitter-patter back to the kitchen to remind them to come tuck me in. And Dad, Dad told me the most amazing princess stories.

Okay, suspension of disbelief people. This was in the 80’s, before princesses earned a bad rap. This is back when princesses were super-rad, ass-kicking maniacs. Well, I don’t know if that’s true. But here’s what I do know…Dad would tell me these stories of a ‘princess’ who basically could do whatever she wanted. Not in a spoiled and snotty way, in a seriously accomplished and determined way. She fought the bad guys and won – every time. She went on adventures. She did some royally cool stuff in castles that I can’t quite remember. These were not love stories. These were adventure stories. And, I would live them in my head as my Dad told them, as if each princess and her narration was a video game, kicking ass at some new level of the You-Can-Do-Anything Metaphor Video Game of Life. The princess always fought hard, thought hard, and made it through to the end. This was our time together. A nice little Princess Story ritual.

Years later, Dad copped to the truth. Mr. Dad Pants was super-keen on metaphor, and these Princess Stories were his way of saying You, daughter, can do absolutely anything you want in this world. It doesn’t matter what it is – you can do it.

And you know what, his stories totally worked. He managed to raise a daughter with a big, expansive sense of adventure and daring and limitlessness. I am grateful to my Dad to this day for telling me these Princess Stories. For telling my teeny-tiny self how big the world is, and that I really can do anything I put my mind to.

So, let’s just say that’s the keystone in the storytelling history here.

List One
What’s the story you most desire to bring to life in 2016?
This is so much more than just one story, oops.

  • I want to tell myself the story of a woman who does for real business as unusual in 2016, in a way that can substantially, financially replace twenty percent of the income that she currently earns at her job-job.
    I know, I know – this isn’t really the sort of story that you release into the world as a narrative. But if I have learned anything in this year, it’s that if I want something to come true, if I want to live it, first I have to see and believe that it can happen. I need some more Princess Stories here. And the first step toward that is telling myself over and over again that I can do this, and visualizing how I do this. So, that story starts tonight, and every night, as I fall asleep in bed – visualizing this story into place.
  • A visual story of these quotes that have been appearing every night for the last (almost) year. I want to bring them to life through paper goods like stationery and calendars and other design-like things. There are nearly 365 (almost there!) of these little gems, and I am feeling more and more like they tell their own visual story, and that they want to be shared with the world in a new way.
  • Other people’s stories! At a creative-person-happy-hour earlier this month, I was meeting new people and feeling happy-hour free and got brazen and carefree in describing myself. I was with a lovely gaggle of people, and we were pressing each other hard to describe what we did – as some of us do what we love and create on the side, and some do it as a focal point, and none of us had really, really clear definitions. At one point I like telling other people’s stories slipped out of my mouth. I do like telling other people’s stories. I love getting to know people. Interviewing. And that magic you are trusted with when it comes down to distilling and translating the little slices someone has handed you and making some sort of beautiful little mixed drink out of it. I learn so much when I write stories about other people, these mini biographies. And, it is hard work. It is slogging-through-six-inches-of-snow-and-ice work. I feel so much responsibility to get it right, to be true to the person at the center of the story. I get stuck. I push hard. I work hard. I love the beginning (interview), I get mired in the middle, and I love the outcome. I want to tell more of these stories, but I want to learn how to make the process smoother.
  • A children’s book about the dear, sweet dog Fierce I was lucky enough to spend 8.5 years of my life with. To say the least, this dog was the love of my life. I started writing about her this summer, in a magical, mystical, farm-dog with a human twist sort of way. She wore and apron and a bandana and she was the heart of the farm. She died in November, and without meaning to be melodramatic or silly sounding – it was the most heartbreaking thing that has happened in my little life. It still is. So, it only seems fair, beyond the hand-painted marker at her grave out in the pasture, that she be properly remembered through a series of stories for children with beautiful illustrations. 
  • I really just want to submit at least one essay to Modern Love. It doesn’t have to be the best thing I have ever written. It just has to be something. Because, this is going to be a new practice for 2016. Not just writing things and squirreling them away in my cheeks until they are as full as rodent cheeks can get. But writing them and sending them out into the world – without attachment to outcomes. A different kind of practice.
  • That you don’t have to be perfect. That’s pretty silly as ‘stories’ go, but I want to continue to hold this idea of imperfectionist in mind and hand in the year ahead. To write, and keep writing. To make, and keep making. To live, and keep living – without the need to be perfect. To trust my gut and just get stuff out there. To be bold and be brave and be free and full of typos and not worry so much.

List Two
What’s the story your just-right reader-buddies and stationery purchasers most desires to bring to life in 2016?
I am working on this. Literally. Last year any time there was a question about ‘your audience’ I flailed wildly. I don’t have any idea who my audience is. I could make some guesses about who they would be. But I didn’t have an audience, so I couldn’t ask them. This year is different. There is an amazing group of people to run with, and to read with. I don’t think client is the best word, nor audience. But maybe those will just have to suffice. Maybe onlookers because it has an air of rubber-necking, of peering in because there is a chance of humiliating disaster and maybe that is the reason they stick around. Well, I asked this amazing group of people I get to hang out with – and hopefully I’ll hear back over the next few days. But, I didn’t want to delay this post – so for now I will give you assumptions, and we’ll see how close they come.

  • The literary loving stationery fiends are looking to correspond, thank you, pick-me-up, and just send a note created by an independent artist that is: evocative, unique, literary or historical, with feeling and visually engaging.
  • Onlookers are interested in livening up a part of their own selves, which they are already bravely and wildly on a path to doing, but want the occasional reminders to be brave, imperfect, adventurous, bold, honest, imperfect, real and human. They don’t want to tell stories, they just want to live truthfully. And breathe deep. Don’t we all just want to translate that internal, human, gobbledegook experience into something real, readable, and tangible?
  • Freeland clients are looking for (literally) someone to tell their stories on time, with clarity, and with whatever voice is required. They are looking to tell a specific story, and I will use my detective powers to figure out what story they want to tell, and tell it for them.

List Three
Where do your three stories overlap?

  • Adventure
  • Believing in one’s self brazenly enough to dig deep and do what needs to be done
  • Moving forward in spite of (or even because of) imperfection
  • You Can Do It

Welp. This is the most anticlimactic blog post ending ever. Maybe I’ll stop back in after I get a better sense of the stories of the onlookers for the year ahead. We’ll see.

In the mean time, go tuck in a child and tell them a kick-ass Princess Story.


One Comment

  1. Just beautiful, Vanessa–I love this through and through. Onward! Here’s to the grit princess, to owning each swerve in desire with verve. And to what comes of these beautiful paths/projects you’ve delineated here. I love interviewing people too.



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