Turning Fairy Tales into Reality
Monday February 4, 2013

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In our modern world, the mere mention of fairy tales is equated with Disney, Prince Charming and glass slippers. The real history of fairy tales is a ghastly one. The Brothers Grimm from Germany, for example, along with many other authors, included more violence and gruesome details that have been washed away to create sanitized versions for children to enjoy. Did you know that one of the evil step sisters in Cinderella cut parts of her feet off in order to fit into the glass slippers? Or that in the original French version of Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault, the young girl is actually eaten by the wolf, not saved?

I share these examples not to scare you or push you away from enjoying fairy tales, but to help us all recognize that each of these fairy tales that we most likely adored during childhood were mere extended metaphors in hopes of teaching us life lessons – per the examples above, never conform to be someone who you are not and never trust people who have yet to earn your trust.  More importantly, such tales are not tales to be taken literally, which causes me to wonder – what was the Prince Charming tale really trying to teach us?

If happily ever after is depicted as finding our metaphorical Prince Charming, perhaps what it literally means is not that we should all aspire to find that one person to complete our lives, but to dare to dream grand, wildly amazing dreams that surpass even our own expectations. A life that is rich with travel and endless new experiences – it can happen. A life lived as a well-paid writer/graphic designer/designer – it can happen. A life that involves owning your own boutique selling beautiful independent designer garments and accessories – it can happen.

Now it is also important to note that fairy tales never exclude the obstacles. There will always be evil step-mothers, the ticking clock at midnight, a queen who wants her competition destroyed. But what fairy tales do remind us is that if we choose wisely, we can overcome.

“Classic fairy tales do not deny the existence of heartache and sorrow, but they do deny universal defeat.”—Greenhaven press

Today, I’d like to encourage you to adjust your perspective on what a fairy tale looks like. Each of us will have our own fairy tale; in fact, we are living it right now. It is simply a matter of redefining the term “fairy tale”. How we move forward, what we work toward, who we spend our lives with, what challenges we take on and refuse to be defeated by all come together to create our own unique fairy tale. How we choose to look at our lives – as a drudgery or a fantastic experiment of what we can achieve is up to us. The gift of living a fairy tale is that so long as we define it by what we deem to be worth pursuing, what brings us bliss, contentment and fulfillment, we then allow for our lives to be richer than simply chasing one definition of what a fairy tale is.

Your Prince Charming may be living your life on your terms, and if that is the case for you, as it is for me, then you are already living a fairy tale and you may not have realized it until now. Revel in it. And continue to bask in the richness that is indeed an amazing life to be living.

“Do not lose hope – what you seek will be found.”
Neil Gaiman

Have a wonderful first week in February everyone.

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10 thoughts on “Turning Fairy Tales into Reality

  1. I loved watching the Disney films with my mam when I was little, but I would stay at my grandparents house a lot and my granddad used to read the Brothers Grim stories to me and that it the fairy tales I fell in love with. I liked the dark side of the story (with a pure child’s mind). I used to tell the stories to my friends in the playground and made a few of them cry… My Granddad was told off for telling such stories, but I still made him read them to me.

    I really enjoyed todays post. Thank you.



  2. Encouraging reading. Seeing setbacks and failures as a natural part of life – and something to learn from – has changed a lot for me lately, but now I’m thinking that I could even look upon them as evil stepmothers, witches or monsters to defeat. No fairytale would be complete without them, and perhaps the same goes for our lives?

  3. Cinderella was a feminist, really. She had a horrible life and was treated badly, had to wear rags and sleep in the kitchen on the floor. She had no friends, no mother, nobody who loved or supported her. But she didn’t let herself be defeated. Then on the night of the ball, she goes there completely by herself, unattended by anybody! Imagine! Which empowered woman does that even nowadays? She takes her fate into her own hands and goes to the ball against so many obstacles and meets a great man. All Princes in fairy tales simply are symbolic for a good man who has a good heart. Like you would say of a kind man: o, he’s such a prince. Prince Charming is a symbol for “the best man you can imagine for yourself”.

    When mothers and grandmothers told those stories to their children hundreds of years ago they were teaching them, that no matter how poor they are or what they look like,they can make any dreams come true, be beautiful and wealthy and be in a happy relationship.That is the enchantment of all the fairy tales, they teach children that any obstacle can be overcome no matter how impossible it seems.

    True though, that the scenes of violence and blood in some of the stories are outrageous, but one must consider the times they were told, there was a war going on at all times, or think of the French revolution. There just was a lot of violence in every day life, so it didn’t seem extreme then. Now, of course, we have to replace those passages with something much more sensible and appropriate.

  4. Lovely post, lovely ideas…it helps to think of things in this way! Shannon you said that as you are living life on your own terms, it is like having your own fairytale already. What if then, you are not living your version of a fairytale? Life is not without obstacles, as you pointed out. And I am trying to make the best choices that I can with the life that I currently have. But, I will confess that it is not my true fairytale. The fairytale is something much different, something that I’ve never experienced, something I’ve been dreaming about for many years. I keep “trying” (I say it like that because you can’t force things and often there isn’t much to actually specifically “do”), but I’m still not living my fairytale. What is the best way to keep going? I think about my true fairytale daily.

  5. Personally I always preferred the Greek Myths with their tales of a hero on a quest and monsters. They had similar messages but were not so sanitised. [Off topic, I know, but I honestly think children can stand more scary things and gore than we imagine: they even like it!]

    Anyhoo, I agree that applying these tales to our own lives can help a lot. Interesting post.

  6. I just came across this…thank you for the reminder that the fairy tale encompasses the apparent good and evil of life :0)

  7. Meaningful post. In these fairy tales good always triumphs.Things will work out in the end.We can only really savour the good if we experience the evil.?

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