The Magic of Stories
Written by
Karen A Szklany
February 2017
Written by
Karen A Szklany
February 2017

Hallway of Fairy Lights at Tower Hill Botanical Garden during their Winter Re-Imagined season



Everyone is a Storyteller

     When you see an image like the photograph above, does your mind begin to think of stories to write or tell about a magical world?  I found this dark hall full of rainbow fairy lights wound around tree branches enchanting when I saw it.  I wanted to re-create the scene in a short story or a novel.  I felt like I was walking into a world in a parallel dimension and wanted to stay.  Such inspiration is one benefit of my volunteering for a winter program offered by our local botanical garden.

     We all tell stories.  Some of us write our stories down on paper, or type them into a computer. We are also storytellers in the oral tradition, too.  Each time we describe an event in our lives we are telling a story.  Some of that story uses words to communicate its elements; some of the story is unwritten or nonverbal, like the mood conveyed when we are speaking. Our story of the moment could be a joyful retelling of a recent accomplishment or a sad recounting of a recent loss.  How does it feel when you share those stories?  Do you feel uplifted in some way?  Sharing a joy can double the happiness felt and sharing a sorrow can help ease the burden of heavy emotions that come with it.  That is part of the magic of storytelling.


Stories We Tell Ourselves

     Not only do we share stories with others, we tell ourselves stories that affect our frame of mind, our sense of well-being.  The stories we tell ourselves help us accomplish our goals or helps us build barriers to accomplishing our goals. Our internal dialogue helps us sort through our feelings about ourselves, events in our lives, and the people we come in contact with.  Our stories can be full of judgment or full of compassion, and the tone of those stories affect how we interact with the people we encounter each day, whether or not they are the subjects of the stories we are telling ourselves.  If we focus on disappointments, our energy will be depleted constantly.  If we shift our focus to stories that bring us joy, we will spread that joy to others.

     We have the power to write our own success stories that reflect a happy life at the foundation.  So why not tell yourself that you will write for 15 minutes a day, or play a musical instrument for that long, or paint?  That time can lengthen once you set the habit.  We can begin with the present to tell ourselves that we have what it takes to make the best of the time we have at work, at play, or with our families.  Some people find it effective to write those stories in a journal, and verbal affirmations work best for others.  The most important thing is to try out different ways of "writing" your story.  You could compose the story of your strengths: how you discovered them, how others may have encouraged you as  you developed them, and how you used them to create the life you love. If we believe the stories we tell ourselves, they will begin to come true.  Let's make those stories have happy endings.


Stories We Tell Others

     The stories we tell others can shape our days and the path our lives take.  The story we tell an interviewer will determine whether we are offered the job of our dreams.  The story we tell our therapist can open a window to how we can break self-defeating habits and make our lives better.  The stories we tell our are legacies to the roots that gave them life and have the power to give them confidence in achieving their dreams if they are encouraging.  The stories we tell the people we meet may highlight what we have in common with our new acquaintances and deepen the bonds of friendship for a lifetime. The stories we share with others reflect who we are and make an impression on the people we tell them to.  It's important that those stories make us shine and give those we share them with hope to do the same.


What Types of Stories Do You Tell?

     What are the stories you tell?  Are they fiction or nonfiction?  Do they take place in the past, present or future?  Are they full of anger, compassion, playfulness, or all of those at the same time? Are they dreamlike? Are your stories with old, stale and overused plots, or are they ever fresh and exciting?  Are they stories where you remain a victim for years or are you the hero of your life who has survived hardships, healed, and thrives?  Are there some you love to retell and others you'd want to re-write?  Like in the movie Inkheart, you have the power to write a new story when the old one isn't working for you.  Go ahead, compose some new ones and see where they lead you!


"We are the stuff dreams are made of." ~ Prospero in The Tempest (Shakespeare)

    Dreams are almost like a conversation between your unconscious and the world around you. Do you remember your dreams and tell others about them?  If you keep a journal, you may see patterns that could brighten your waking life and help you forge a path toward success in the areas that mean the most to you, or to experience a breakthrough on a project. Your daydreams and your nighttime dreaming are often connected.  They can talk to each other, and from them you have the power to re-create your stories and your life.  Your journey starts now, with you at the helm. Bon Voyage!

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