You know how you find yourself having a realization (at your age?) and wondering how you had never conceived of such a thing in your life…and you are kind of shocked (and maybe embarrassed) that you never did? Well, that is what happened when I decided to go ahead and purchase the bright pink sleeveless dress with the too tight armholes. It took my entire adult life to have the courage to buy a dress that had most of the elements of design that I liked – but not quite – and change it. It may sound silly, but, before that, it had never occurred to me to buy something that had been designed by someone else, say thank you very much but I am going to improve upon this – and do it. I have perfectly beautiful arms, even if they are the size of canons. I used to pass on dresses, wondering: Why do I fall in love with great dresses that squeeze into my armpits and push a little burp of fat out from beneath? Until I took my power back.
One day I thought differently. Why have I passed on great dresses when all I have to do is change the thing I don’t like; the thing that isn’t for me? I’ve got scissors!
I had unleashed the Tiger. The day after I bought the bright pink sleeveless dress I was reading the standard story of Cinderella to the girls, when I stopped, and said NO. I liked the story of Cinderella –even loved it in some weird, familial, archaic way. But it, like the pink dress, was too tight – unfinished – and it did not fit me. Instead of tolerating it or allowing the previous storytellers to bear down on me, I decided to improve it. For me. And for my daughters. So I did. Sometimes saying No is the perfect beginning.
I did not retell the story of Cinderella. I kept it as is. And I opened it up. I told the girls how Cinderella had a hunch that all the girls in the Kingdom after they had seen and tried her single, lonely glass slipper (while The Prince searched desperately for her), dreamed of owning their own pair. I told them about how she decided to make that possible by launching the Cinderella Glass Slipper Factory. I told them how her princess friends joined in with their own expertise to make it happen. For us, saying No was a Yes to a better princess story. One that fit.
I wore the bright pink sleeveless dress with comfort and confidence; and it still looks great. And I told the Cinderella story over and over until it I wrote it down and until I had it illustrated and until I had it published.
What No has been your beginning?