Storytelling Matters

The Live Art and the Power of Words

Archive for the tag “language”

Reimagining Beauty – R is for Resilience

Blogging A to Z

If you are new to this blog, welcome!

For my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, I am writing about how storytellers, writers, parents, teachers (in other words, just about anyone) can reimagine beauty to be more inclusive. That way, people with disabilities, varying body types and racial backgrounds, etc. (in other words, anyone) can feel and be recognized by the world as the beauties they truly are.

Reimagining Beauty – R is for Resilience

Did you ever see the Roadrunner cartoons? Roadrunner was regularly attacked by a villain called Wile E. Coyote. The story formula hardly varied from episode to episode – the coyote unveiled a new scheme to catch the bird, executed it, and it backfired onto him. Instant karma.

Sometimes he blew himself up. Other times, he plunged over the edge of cliffs. But he always survived. Bedraggled and smoky, he left each scene of the crime. Lights up on a completely normal and unchanged W. E. Coyote, ready to try again.

Talk about resilience!

There is an old fable about a proud and mighty oak tree who watched as a tall bunch of reeds swayed in the breeze. He giggled when they twisted out of the way of flying birds. He laughed outright when the reeds bent over in the wind.

“How silly you are to bend and sway in the face of challenges. Be like me. Stand strong against them!”

But when a hurricane came, the reeds waved and bent in the strengthening breezes. The oak stood firm.

The wind blew harder. The reeds flattened to the ground. The oak stood firmer, clenching the earth with his roots.

The winds galed and the tree became so stiff and brittle that the force of a gust snapped his trunk. As the tree fell, the winds died away. From the ground, he watched the reeds straighten up and dance gently in the breeze. That was when he understood. Flexibility in the face of challenges is not only smart, it’s beautiful.

If the coyote is ridiculous, the reeds are sublime. And both demonstrate resilience.

Every life has challenges. Bouncing back from challenges is what keeps us happy and healthy. People who acknowledge the difficulties in life, move through them without resentment, and return as their “good old selves” ready for the next adventure, are blessed with a quality that not only makes them gorgeous, but fosters beauty in their own lives and in the lives of others.

In addition to fictional or historical characters in stories, resilience is found in people who inhabit our memories and our day to day lives. Honor their willingness to dive into adventure in spite of past hurts. Resilience is beautiful.

The return of light, the reclamation of joy, the ability to dance after darkness is the beauty of resilience. Instead of desperate diets and fruitless attempts to make real life skin look airbrushed, use the power of words to help others to see that resilience is beauty worth emulating.

Reimagining Beauty – Q is for Quirky

Blogging A to Z

If you are new to this blog, welcome!

For my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, I am writing about how storytellers, writers, parents, teachers (in other words, just about anyone) can reimagine beauty to be more inclusive. That way, people with disabilities, varying body types and racial backgrounds, etc. (in other words, anyone) can feel and be recognized by the world as the beauties they truly are.

Reimagining Beauty – Q is for Quirky

Recently, we worked with a group of children at an after school program. All of the kids were sweet and lovely. Some were quite talented, most were hard working, and a couple were lightning quick. But one of them was extraordinary.

Her hair was always a little mussed. Her glasses were often a bit askew. She wandered in late but always stayed to help afterwards, sharing wildly creative, deep thoughts for a person of her age. The child asked penetrating questions. Though she seemed out of step with the rest of the children in the group, she was not out of sync with the project that we were all doing together. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that although she was with us on our river of creativity, she was riding a different current.

The child was quirky.

And good golly, was she beautiful. Not because she fit the standard recipe, but because she was quirky. Everything about her came together in such a pleasing and unusual way.

Beauty attracts. So does quirky. Great beauty is remarkable. So is quirkiness.

It’s true that there are similarities between the qualites of “quirky” and “outside the box” (which I wrote about previously for letter “O”). But for me there is one critical difference. To be outside the box means that you know where the box is and are very aware of where you stand in relation to it. There is a conscious choice to let norms fall away or to follow personal whims despite, or because, of the presence of the box. To decide to shed the box is to be free of its boundaries.

In contrast, quirkiness isn’t chosen like that. The awesome beauty of quirkiness comes because it just is. My quirky student has no idea that she is quirky. She has no idea how charming, how delightful, how attractive she is. So much of what is beautiful about her comes from the innocent and honest individuality that she possesses. I can’t wait to see how the wonders of her life unfold.

It is important to tell and write about the beauty in quirkiness for two reasons. First, it widens the lens of what is truly beautiful. The second reason is that the innocent originality of quirky beauty is often reviled by others. My quirky student was avoided by the ‘cool’ kids in our group. Not a target of bullying exactly, she was not embraced by others, which could be a bullying risk.

Make the quirky ones the beauties in your stories. Declaim their beauty with your powerful words and thoughts. Use your words to celebrate my girl and all those lucky enough to wear a quirky badge of honor.

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Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

Reimagining Beauty – P is for Peaceful

Blogging A to Z

If you are new to this blog, welcome!

For my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, I am writing about how storytellers, writers, parents, teachers (in other words, just about anyone) can reimagine beauty to be more inclusive. That way, people with disabilities, varying body types and racial backgrounds, etc. (in other words, anyone) can feel and be recognized by the world as the beauties they truly are.

Reimagining Beauty – P is for Peaceful

Calm.
Stillness.
Restful bliss.
Yoga teachers.
A gothic cathedral.
My son’s physical therapist.
A spring fed country lake at the edge of a forest in late summer.

Serenity is the secret, golden key to life. It also happens to be the main ingredient in some people. You know them when you meet them. They glide through the world like swans on a spring fed country lake. At the edge of a forest. In late summer (or any season really). It is a privilege to be in the presence of peaceful beauty.

One of the stories I tell with The Storycrafters is about a character with a peaceful nature. He spreads loveliness and warmth to all he meets. Along the way, he attracts the natural world to do his will. Because he has a peaceful nature, he is considered beautiful. We don’t mention his appearance. We simply describe his bearing and the beautiful things that happen because of it.

I know a musician who also happens to be a gardner. Her calm, peaceful interior mirrors her contemplative flower garden. Her mood is steady and people love to be around her. I don’t have to say more about what she looks like. I’ve already told you that she is beautiful.

Peaceful souls cultivate relaxation in others. They are an oasis of calm in the middle of a harried existence. Being in the presence of peacefulness, like being in a gothic cathedral or in pristine nature, is beauty that borders on the reverential.

Who provides solace? Who are the ones who carry peace in their hearts? What characters in your stories are the steady rocks that others flock to for assurance, for stress relief, for assistance, for their calming voice? Their looks and age and background don’t matter at all. Their power is in their gentleness, their beauty is in their peacefulness. Tell about them.

So what do you think? Is peace a great and beautiful thing? Are there peaceful people that you know who are beautiful because of that quality? How about in stories?

Reimagining Beauty – O is for Outside the Box

Blogging A to Z

If you are new to this blog, welcome!

For my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, I am writing about how storytellers, writers, parents, teachers (in other words, just about anyone) can reimagine beauty to be more inclusive. That way, people with disabilities, varying body types and racial backgrounds, etc. (in other words, anyone) can feel and be recognized by the world as the beauties they truly are.

Reimagining Beauty – O is for Outside the Box

People thought that he was rude, he
Only cared for outer beauty –
Didn’t see the rest of her
And so he missed the best of her.
To match a form, conform what’s that?
The wishes of a bureaucrat.
She could turn the cold to summer
Marching to a different drummer.
So he changed, knocked down the blocks
And noticed life outside the box.

There is beauty in the people who forge their own paths. I am not talking about the ones who do it to make a glitzy public relations splash, but the brave souls who honor their instincts. I know someone who started up a business re-purposing old, boring furniture. By creating custom-designed fabric art for each piece, everyday furniture is transformed into original, “funexpected” artwork. Where people in the furniture business in the Hudson Valley tend to either do their own woodworking or deal in antiques, my friend chose a different, “outside the box” furniture business. It is beautiful.

It is also brave. It takes courage to try something your own way, something that is not prescribed or proscribed. Not having the directions puts you on edge because you are at the edge. The impulse to do or live outside the box is raw and real and gorgeous. Protagonists in stories do this all the time. People in life do too.

This impulse to go outside the box, to stand at the “edge,” can be read on a glowing person’s face, in the sparkle of a personality, and in the force of magnetic charm.

When you tell and write stories, don’t forget the beauty of this quality. Anyone can possess it, anyone can feel beautiful for being outside the box. Anyone can be included in such a definition of beauty no matter what culture, genetic background, age, or if a life experience altered appearance or ability.

Follow the leader is a game, it doesn’t have to be a lifestyle. Honor the beauty in those who follow their own leads and live outside the box. They are beautiful people indeed.

Off the path and off the pages,
Offbeat living is outrageous,
Beautiful, and quite courageous.

Outside the box can be contagious…

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Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

Reimagining Beauty – N is for Numinous

Blogging A to Z

If you are new to this blog, welcome!

For my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, I am writing about how storytellers, writers, parents, teachers (in other words, just about anyone) can reimagine beauty to be more inclusive. That way, people with disabilities, varying body types and racial backgrounds, etc. (in other words, anyone) can feel and be recognized by the world as the beauties they truly are.

Reimagining Beauty – N is for Numinous

If this word is mysterious to you, then you are already halfway to understanding it – mysterious is one way to explain it.

Something that is numinous, according to Merriam-Webster.com, suggests the presence of divinity. Numinousness touches our emotions. According to the World Dictionary, another meaning of numinous is awe-inspiring.

Think magical. Think bewitching. Think holy. Think awesome. Think supernatural (but not the television series).

We have all met people who possess a quality that we can’t identify, that lures us in and lassos our hearts. We recognize sheer beauty when a mysterious, bewitching connection of two souls mutually strikes emotion and spirit. Meeting a life partner is an example of a numinous occurrence.

One of my son’s dance teachers has this quality. Tension melts away in his presence. He gentles people. Like a human horse whisperer, this man has an inexplicable something. One of his mentors says he is divine.

When we recognize the beautiful mystery of someone else, we are not looking at their complexion. When we are awestruck by another’s soul, we are not evaluating their swimsuit size. Yet, when we connect to the numinous nature of another, we marvel at his or her beauty.

So marvel at the inner, inexplicable beauty of those you know or compose words about. Whether you speak or write, tell about the beautiful, numinous nature of people.

Can you think of characters from life and literature who are beautiful for this quality?
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Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

Reimagining Beauty – M is for Multifaceted

Blogging A to Z

If you are new to this blog, welcome!

For my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, I am writing about how storytellers, writers, parents, teachers (in other words, just about anyone) can reimagine beauty to be more inclusive. That way, people with disabilities, varying body types and racial backgrounds, etc. (in other words, anyone) can feel and be recognized by the world as the beauties they truly are.

Reimagining Beauty – M is for Multifaceted

Cinnamon smells great. Baked apples are delightful. A handful of walnuts are a yummy treat. But when you put all of them together? Culinary loveliness.

A teen boy I know loves opera and gaming. By itself, the love of one or the other isn’t necessarily ugly or beautiful (though, seriously, a teen boy who wants to sing opera is a beautiful thing in its own way). However, the juxtaposition of those two passions in one teenager is singularly exciting and quite beautiful to think about.

Everybody is multifaceted. Everyone has a variety of characteristcs that come together, that harmonize or create counterpoint. Harmony and counterpoint are part of what makes beautiful music. A blend of just the right ingredients is what makes apple pie delicious. The varied facets of a human personality is what makes that person attractive and interesting.

When we focus on just one characterstic, like what a person looks like, we miss the best part.

Think of a kaleidoscope. When we look at one, we don’t focus on any one tiny fragment. We take in the combination of shapes and colors and patterns that dance in a prismatic array. The whole effect wows us. To focus on any one component won’t bring us to the beautiful effect that comes from looking at all the shaken parts at once.

Any story character worth its depth has more than one quality that comes together in an interesting way, that makes him or her leap off the page or tongue. I am currently working on a fractured variant of a classic story. I could describe the heroine as the typical, standard, old school fairy tale heroine – passive, pretty, and patient. But these are not the qualities that make my heroine beautiful. My woman is smart and artistic. And she is very discerning. Never once do I mention her looks. I don’t have to. Her multifaceted self is all she needs to be alluring.

Yes, it is trite, but sometimes trite is true. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And it is the sum of those parts that add up to beautiful people, no matter what they look like, no matter what their birth abilities might be. Apple pie. Harmony. Kaleidescope. Multifaceted.

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Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

Reimagining Beauty – L is for Luminous

Blogging A to Z

If you are new to this blog, welcome!

For my Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, I am writing about how storytellers, writers, parents, teachers (in other words, just about anyone) can reimagine beauty to be more inclusive. That way, people with disabilities, varying body types and racial backgrounds, etc. (in other words, anyone) can feel and be recognized by the world as the beauties they truly are.

Reimagining Beauty – L is for Luminous

My neighbor has the sort of face that lights up rooms. I don’t think I’m exaggerating. Her smile changes her face drastically. At rest, she looks like a middle-aged mom. But with a smile, she becomes a live, bright yellow, happy face emoticon. Jaunty jubilance shines from every pore. In short, she is luminous, and not a bad sight during the darkest, heavy-wet-snow moments of late winter.

She doesn’t have the exact look that advertising says is beautiful. But the luminosity she puts across is more beautiful than any sparkly-clad model on a runway (some of whom seem so worn down as to suck in light rather than to produce it, but I digress).

There is a child who I have written about in prior posts. She is the one who inspired this blog series. Her smile can stop wars. The joy and luminosity that she puts out is grippingly beautiful. My neighbor and that little girl are luminous, as are some other beautiful things.

Gems are luminous. Fireflly light is too. The sun breaking through the clouds and the sheen of gold evince luminosity. A masterly painting, when put in the proper light, well, lights up. All of those things reflect and shed light. All of those things are considered high beauty. So, when people shine like gems or great art, isn’t that great beauty too?

Luminosity doesn’t belong to one type of person. Anyone can be luminous. As all of my Reimagining Beauty posts suggest, beauty can be inclusive of people of all ages, abilities, and cultural backgrounds.The glow in someone’s eye, face, or skin hints at the shimmering spirit of a beautiful person within.

So write and tell about luminous beauties in your stories, your memories, your life, and your favorite tales of old. They are there, waiting for you to shed light upon them. Share them with private or public audiences to teach the young and remind everybody to reflect on the beauty of light.

Have you read any books or heard any stories with a shimmering, glowing, beauty? How might you describe such a character?

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Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

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