My little Prince of Darkness, Anakin Lucas Harz, turns TWO today! How can this be?! It feels like only yesterday I was picking him up from his foster home to prevent him from being returned to the feral colony. He has taught me a lot in the last two years, mostly about the importance of play, rest, and nourishment. Ani spends a good 80% of his day sleeping and nourishing his body. The other 20% is spent playing. That’s all you really need in life, right? Right. . .well, mostly. . .here is a lesson I’m teaching Ani and it has been a mirror for me to learn from as well.

Lesson: Storytelling

I am a GREAT storyteller. I like to think my imagination has been thriving since I was just an infant. I’ve been obsessed with fantasy and science fiction from a very young age. I used to play with our eight cats out in the desert until sun down and climb trees and sand dunes in search for adventure. The nurturing of my creative spirit and imagination has served me well in my career as a social worker as well. I have often thought outside of the box to help my clients and now in fundraising I have continued to strengthen my critical thinking skills with a heaping scoop of creativity.

I even love to story tell in my groups of friends. I find myself sharing my dreams and stories about the week with enthusiasm and a certain fierceness. I get REALLY excited about walking people through an experience I had. Even my weekly therapy sessions are fun because I look forward to it like a child getting ready for story time. I am eager to share with my therapist how I’m working on this chapter of my life and what things I have identified as not serving me, for which I have “turned the page” and have committed to not looking back.

These stories–these narratives–are what make up our lives. they are the web we weave. We create the narratives based on our experiences and our perceptions of others. Sometimes the narratives feed our soul and often times they have the ability to cripple us.

So, let’s talk about the dark side of story telling. . .how about those stories we make up when we take things personally or have a past trauma or experience that leaves us feeling anxious and disconnected? Those are the times when storytelling can be quite scary. I know I made up stories when I’m feeling disconnected or threatened. My ego is really good at letting fear flood in and take the reigns while my spirit is trying to hold up her own and flood my system with peace and love. Anakin also experiences this I think. He’s never been officially diagnosed with anxiety, but I imagine since he was the runt of his litter and then “rescued” by a woman and taken to a house with lots of other cats much bigger than him, that the first month of his life was pretty traumatic. It took me WEEKS to get him to trust going outside the bathroom. He used to pee on himself if he got scared. Now, most of that has been resolved, but he is still nervous and runs at the hint of any new sounds–this is where the storytelling comes in. I imagine that he has a similar response to me when I get triggered and start to make up a story. I get paralyzed and overwhelmed. I don’t know how to stop the flood of panic. . .

Well, that was until I started practicing what I like to call the “Bookshelf Approach.” The Bookshelf Approach is when I (with myself or a friend) go through and decide which “books” (stories) need to go back on the shelf.

Step 1: Recognize or become aware that there is a story happening

Step 2: Remain calm and DO NOT PANIC. Take some deep breaths.

Step 3: Consider whether this book is feeding love or feeding fear

Step 4: If it is feeding fear, say out loud “it’s time for you to go back on the shelf.”

Step 5: Thank fear for trying to protect me and assure it I am safe and not being chased by a lion.

Step 6: Start fresh with facts.

These steps although simple can have life shifting effects. I am so grateful that I have learned how to put certain stories back up and thank them. That is the cornerstone of loving darkness I think–thank it for being part of what makes you. . . well, YOU.

Starting tomorrow, I will be joining a group of people in one of the scariest emotional challenge I think was ever thought up. I am so pumped about it though! Jordanna Eyre, Chief Sorceress at Modern Day Sorcerer, is launching the Embrace Your Darkness challenge. This five day challenge is FREE and it will be packed full of ways for you to embrace the parts of yourself that are a little messy or a hot mess! Join us to learn more about those parts of yourself that lurk in the shadows. Let’s learn how to love all parts of ourselves, including the moments we want to make up a whole library full of illusions.

With glitter and gratitude,