Some dates are very special and supposedly auspicious and 11-11-11 was a one of those dates – do you remember what you were doing? Personally, it was a special day for me. In the morning I was part of a 11.11am group meditation on One Tree Hill in some way out part of South East London I’d never been to before and met some wonderful new friends. Then we drove way out West to a very special part of ancient Britain with our children – to introduce them to the massive ancient stones at Avebury, (one of my favourite spots on the planet) and light our way with the Martinmas lanterns they’d made at school. It was truly magical.
But also, I did something very special at 11.11pm that day! I sent out the first Artists Adventures card to the 6 lovely people who’d signed up over the previous few weeks with nothing but a little ad sitting in the sidebar on my website. The reason it was so special to me was partly because I envisioned these cards more than three years before, so it seems they had been a long, long time coming… and finally, they were beginning to go out there into the world for real – it felt so good for that to be so.
The other reason was that the very first card of the full 26 card deck is the Ace of Hearts, which is my ‘Follow Your Bliss’ suit and the coaching exercise I chose for this particular Ace is a variation of one of my favorites, one that I first encountered with Aina Egeberg (one of my NLP/transformational coaching trainers when I was training to be a coach) in her fab ‘Taming Your Dragons’ workshop.
It’s about the stories we carry within us, often ones we heard as children, the ones that resonate deeply with us and that can work like signposts or even a comprehensive map and really help us know ourselves as we venture on.
When Aina asked me the simple question:
“What was your favourite story as a child?”
…The first story that popped into my head was ‘Alice in Wonderland’. I’d loved it but never really understood it. When we explored around this story, it turned out that the plot, the characters and the moral were all of deep significance to me, and since becoming aware of them, they’ve really helped me recognize some patterns in my attitudes and behaviours that I otherwise would have missed.
So, to take my own story as an example, the basic plot is that:
- Once Upon a Time, Alice, drawn by her own inquisitive nature, falls down the rabbit hole, away from the world she knows and lands in wonderland – a world she doesn’t understand – a world where the people are different and the rules are different.
- Suddenly, she just doesn’t fit in, so she tries to change herself – growing smaller, then taller. She tries being polite, she tries being helpful, she tries being rude, but she still can’t make head or tail of how it all works and continues to get into trouble everywhere she goes, ultimately with the Queen of Hearts crying “off with her head!”.
- And at last, she gives up trying to please everyone, as she simply can’t and decides just to be herself. In doing so, she regains her path and finds her way back home, herself intact, but wiser and somehow more ready for her life ahead.
The parallels with my own life are uncanny – I’ve chosen to live in many different countries and to try lots of different fields throughout my working life. The rules are always changing and I’ve become a little addicted to the buzz of trying to fathom them. I’ve tried to fit in – from my first degree course as a film student, to the fast-paced world of tv advertising, from a small town on the border of Texas, to Mexico City – one of the biggest and most polluted cities in the world, from the ups and downs of corporate politics to a ‘peaceful’ (not) life in wellies in the the middle of nowhere but in a foreign language…
Eventually, I have realised, although I knew this deep down all the time, that I just have to be myself wherever I go and I’ll be fine. The lesson I really need to learn is to stop trying to please (or be liked by) everyone all the time.
So, I can learn a thing or two from Alice – as she has the spirit to upset the status quo once in a while – for the better – and challenge the people around her, no matter what their status. She learns to think quickly for herself, and voice her own opinion, rather than just accept how things are done. And she knew when to quit something that wasn’t working and move on, rather than stay and try to fix it.
This exercise goes deep, beyond what I was consciously aware of. It’s helped me reframe some of my own habits and patterns of behaviour. The images conjured by remembering the story help me visualise other ways to play a situation or tackle the next challenge (how would Alice do this?).
All this richness feeds into the way I grow and develop my business, and that’s why I put this exercise in month one of the Artists Adventures series – the first chakra – which is all about establishing strong foundations in all four suits – Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds and Spades.
What about you? What favourite story springs to mind? What will you do differently?
Please share your stories by scrolling down, I’d love to hear your insights..
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