Life Lessons from a Fairy Tale

What is your favourite fairy tale and why?

A long, long time ago, I feasted on fairy tales: Grimm’s, Andersen’s, Aesop fables and Filipino folk tales. And of all the fantastic tales narrated to me, or I myself read, again and again, Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs captivated my heart the most. Why? It was simply magical and feeling good.

As a child, I delighted in repeating this fairy tale to my younger siblings come bedtime, and years later as a mother, when my two sons were little, I never tired of reliving this tale to them .

So whenever there would be a play or the Disney film version of this on TV, a childlike excitement would still fill me as I watched Snow White with my young boys.

Snow White was the girl I dreamed to be because then, I was always teased by my playmates for my dark complexion, and as a shy girl, I saw in her what I wanted to be. Perhaps you may say I had not outgrown my childhood fixation — to be fair like other kids — just because I was bullied for my dark skin (as how I viewed my complexion then).

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Also, my mother was a dominant figure in my growing up years being a stay-at-home mom. So she brought us up in the traditional Filipino strict, yet loving way — a stern disciplinarian tempered with motherly tenderness.

Surely I loved my mom and strove to please her. But as a child with a streak of rebellion in my little girl’s heart, there was a teeny weeny part of me that would put her in the role of the Queen – and myself as Snow White. And that made me feel victorious! So much so for my childish imagination.

As an aside, Mom was beautiful and fair, and it was my younger sisters who inherited her fairness and beauty. At the core of my childhood insecurity regarding my complexion was the so-called colonial mentality which still governed many Filipinos at the time.

In the 60’s, the ideal standard of beauty was to be fair complexioned with long, flowing hair. My saving grace – my high-bridged nose, as others would point out. I guess children pass this stage of pettiness — but their limited understanding and immaturity make such all real for them.

So even with my Mom building up my self-esteem, as a vulnerable, imaginative child, I would yearn for dwarf friends like Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, Dopey (Wikipedia) who would protect me from the bad ones.

Reflecting deeper, I realized the story of Snow White and her friendly, caring 7 dwarfs provided me with a safe comfort zone in my own little world of imagination.

Because of my religious upbringing at home and in school, my awareness of the battle between good and evil was already strong. And the story of Snow White and its depiction of the good winning over evil was in a way what inspired me. Immersing myself into her situation, being Snow White in my mind was like being home away from home, and that I would be safe from the bad ones.

I guess that’s the secret to all these fairy tales, the element of good over evil, and the desire to be and do good – which rouses what is innate in the human soul, even in a child’s soul.

Children have their own way of relating to fairy tales, as I did, but the main thing that attracts them to fantasy stories like these is wanting to see the good forces to triumph over the bad, or the beautiful winning over the ugly.

And surely, many adults still have the child in them, so they still enjoy such stories from their childhood.

Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs, the magical story of my childhood, will  forever tug at my heartstrings in a special way.

How about you ~~ what is your favorite fairy tale and why?

 

*This is a revised edition. First published here in 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Walking in Solitude

In response to an article by Brain Pickings, Walking as Creative Fuel: A Splendid 1913 Celebration of How Solitary Walks Enliven “The Country of the Mind” , here is a thought or two.

How I so wish I could take up walking as a regular activity – yet I’ve never been much of an active walker, such as described here.

But I remember enjoying my long walks inside the university in my college days, as well as in my years of studying and teaching in another university. Unhurried walks when I wasn’t running for time for my classes or at the end of the day – going back home – were indeed a respite for my tired mind and body.

Times when those walks were akin to having a cup of coffee; at times, walking  simply soothed me enough, like a good massage, helping me unwind and relax.

Recalling one particular instance while sauntering inside the campus during a semester break several years back, I wrote:

“Late morning today, I had a most exquisite stroll on campus – the day was cool, the sun was hidden in the clouds, and everything was so still, with nary a soul in sight – ahhh the quiet joy of sem break! So I leisurely walked under the overarching trees that shaded the main avenue of the university communing with Nature – what a bliss!”

What a bliss, indeed! Walking in solitude, like this, connects us with the natural environment, with our inner self as well. If you happen to be a camera buff – just like myself — you can also capture the moment in a photograph for you to share on your social media sites.

Yet –the article describes this type of activity as a “self-defeating impulse to evacuate the moment in order to capture it — in a status update, in an Instagram photo” and goes against what the Scottish writer Kenneth Grahame (March 8, 1859–July 6, 1932) believes walking should be:

“Not a fiftieth part of all your happy imaginings will you ever, later, recapture, note down, reduce to dull inadequate words; but meantime the mind has stretched itself and had its holiday.”

This makes sense to me as far as appreciating walking for its own pleasure, and not doing it for any other purposes – though I know I may not be able to resist photographing an interesting scene along the way.

Solitary leisure walks, I agree, are a good time for us to be immersed in the moment wherever we are. To simply be and let be. As we open our mind, our heart, we lift our spirit to the beauty and quiet surrounding us. Then we can experience a stream of inspiring thoughts.

Some of those solitary walks of mine had stumbled their way to a few of my verses and journal entries.

A walk with and through Nature is a walk with our imagination, with Inspiration, with the Muses. I also see walking in solitude among nature a means to commune with the Divine Spirit, with my Source, with God – the Creator of all things, with whom I can share the power to create.

Thus is walking indeed “a creative fuel,” an impetus that drives us to create – a work of art, a literary piece, a song or a prayer.

Through walking, we can also come up with ideas that promote growth for ourselves and for the betterment of humanity.

“But all these are only the by-products, the casual gains, of walking alone. The high converse, the high adventures, will be in the country of the mind,”

— the article continues to quote.

Such a lovely description!

Sometimes, the most beautiful moment cannot truly be – or does not have to be – plucked or photographed. To honor the sacredness of that moment and hold it in our heart, in our mind’s eye — that is enough.

On Losing Momentum

When I stop – or lose — my momentum, I seem to also lose my sense of balance.

It is much like catching my breath after a few minutes of brisk walk or short run, then finding myself struggling to get up and go.

My mind is engulfed by a huge vacuum from which I cannot escape – leaving me powerless to take off from where I left.

A specific example, one which often challenges me – is writing.

After losing my momentum at a certain point, whatever ideas, fragments of thoughts and feelings, seem to have gathered up in a haze.

“fragments of thoughts and feelings, seem to have gathered up in a haze”

Thus that awful empty, white space stares back at me from my computer screen or my journal page, crying out to be filled. But I remain stuck, my creative juices drained.

So an inner battle ensues, for that certain mood to get myself back into the flow of things seems hard to catch again.

More difficult is when I need to finish a work article or two. I strongly believe that the accomplishment of work tasks should take precedence over any mood or emotions. I should be able to finish something, whether I am in a writing mood or not.

Somehow, I need that pressure to keep my momentum. And once I am there – it can be irritating to have to stop whatever I am focused on at the moment. Somehow, the pressure itself causes negativity.

“In the center of our speed, in the core of our forward movement, we are often confused and lonely. That is why we have turned so full-heartedly to the memoir form. We have an intuition it will save us. Writing is the act of reaching across the abyss of isolation to share and reflect. It’s not a diet to become skinny, but a relaxation into the fat of our lives. Often, without realizing it, we are on a quest, a search for meaning. What does our time on this earth add up to?”
— Natalie Goldberg, Old Friend From Far Away

“Writing is the act of reaching across the abyss of isolation to share and reflect ” – this is so true for me – especially when I am overwhelmed with negative thoughts about myself – as in chastising myself for not doing enough or not being good enough.

Not only about writing – but also in living my daily life. I find that without any structure, things can easily go awry and I can so easily lose momentum.

So — in a way – writing is the crutch I hold onto – for support and solace. Writing allows me to sort out the negatives, and help me bring back a measure of structure to my day.

More deeply though – writing is the space I need to pour out my innermost feelings and thoughts that are just meant for me alone – and my God. Yes, often I write down my prayers instead of mentally conversing — I feel more expressive talking to God through my written prayers, my sacred space where ultimately I discover myself more and more, as I connect more deeply to my Source, my Creator.

This post is a response to the writing prompt by Ms. Laura Davis. To learn more about her and see more prompts as well as writing workshops/retreats, you may go visit her site, The Writer’s Journey Roadmap.

A New Year, Life’s Fresh Start

Happy New Year everyone! May this year bring you more of the good and the best you had last year, and newer, brighter things to come. Blessings to us all!

Make things happen — because everything is possible — with faith in yourself and in God.

Yes ~~ a brand new year is upon us, and it is that time when most of us think of making a fresh start, whether it be in our personal or work life, or in our relationships, or whatever aspect or area of ourselves needing a fresh sweep….

Well, just like my blog — the previous year was not exactly a productive or inspiring one for me as a personal blogger. I felt like my blog was just drifting along, or even drowning in a sea of so many excellent personal blogs out there, albeit some inspiring posts of mine here and there.

So the need to shake off the dust of mediocrity — aha!

So I thought of doing another round of tweaking — and it starts with my blog’s name, which has undergone so many changes, hoping that by doing so, it can motivate me to write and share more inspiring posts.

From now on, it will be “A Ms Mach Garden of Life Inspiration” — a mix-and-match, or potpourri of whatever thoughts, musings, reflections I have at the moment; it can also be – mostly perhaps, my responses to various writing and photography prompts that I come across. Or sometimes, i can do some curated articles on self-help topics. So it is indeed a mix of this and that.

Why a ‘Garden of Life Inspiration?’ When one thinks of a garden, one sees a mix of greens and flowering plants, of shrub and trees. One thinks of growth, of life, of energy and vitality — which I imagine and hope my blog to be.

But why Ms Mach?– well, it’s a sort of word play on the phrase mix-and-match — and I find it interesting, and hopefully catchy enough to capture as wide an audience as possible.

My purpose is to share with my dear readers – whoever you might be, from whatever part of the world you might be – this “Garden of  Life Inspiration” of mine, in the hope you may find a nugget or two of wisdom to inspire Continue reading “A New Year, Life’s Fresh Start”