Wednesday ‘On the Shelf': The gift of fairy tales

Once upon a time…
In a kingdom far, far away…
There lived a brave…
There lived a beautiful…
An enchanted forest where dragons, elves, and fairies dwell surrounded the castle…

There is something about fairy tales that whispers to our soul. Across ages, pages, and the passage of time, a deeper part of ourselves recognises and identifies with the lure of once upon a time, and the promise of happily ever after.
Fairy tales amplify all the parts of human nature; the good, the bad, and the ugly become the saintly and effervescent, the wicked and evil, and the warty and weird.
Our beginnings, average and suburban, become once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away.
Our homes become castles, our challenges and fears become dragons and evil queens.
Everyday life and the steps we take to move towards our dreams are woven into quests and searches for lost treasure.
Unexpected delights and the rewards for hard work are transformed into magic, true love’s first kiss, and happily ever after.

Fairy tales existed long before the wonderful Grimms brothers and Hans Christian Anderson decided to write them down. These tales are of a deeper time, a far away time, which may or may not have existed, but they have lessons for us in contemporary society. Simple to complex, heartening to terrifying, these tales carry messages that are timeless. Morals and ethics woven throughout the trials and triumphs of fair maidens and knights in shining armour. Fairy tales are finding a place in psychotherapy to help people explore deeper themes and trials in their life. Through identifying with characters and situations patients are able to navigate their way through disturbances in their lives and find hope and healing and even their own happy end.

My favourite fairy tale has always been ‘Beauty and the Beast’. The central tenet that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, not the reflection of the beholden, and that beauty lies in the heart of everyone.

I truly believe that we all find our happily ever afters but we need to keep our eyes open to recognise them, because sometimes they don’t start in a castle with once upon a time.

My dear reader, what is your favourite fairy tale and why?

Wednesday – On the Shelf

Mise en place.

Translated from French, and used most commonly as culinary terminology, means ‘putting in place’.

While I am an ‘everything in place girl’ when I am in the kitchen, mise en place applies to so many other areas in my life as well, especially when it comes to writing.

University grounds at sunset

When I try to enter the world of ether and mist that is words, I need to have everything else at rest. I need a centre when I enter the storm.

University grounds

Last night our lecturer spoke about allowing ourselves to enter the creative space and just write, worry about the editing later, just let the story tell itself, and come back to reality later. When I have succeeded in mise en place, that creative space opens like a door in front of me. I may have to fight a few dragons at the gate and shackle an anchor to myself in the rocky sea of writing, at least I can see the way there more easily.

When that door opens, and the world beyond finally allows me entrance, there is no other place I would rather be, I can be transported to a deserted road in the middle of Australia, a wooded trail in Victorian England, or a dark starry night where the waves crash in against the sound on a shore I have never seen.

Here is a sneak peek at a place I have found myself lately (from one of my assignments).


The letter arrived the day of the funeral, if you could call it that, Catherine mused, as there was no body to be interred that misty morning. A funeral usually had more than one mourner in attendance as well, but Catherine stood alone in the light rain listening to the priest’s deep voice intoning the Latin phrases of a final prayer over the small pit that contained only ashes. The priest finished and turned to the tall, pale, young woman who had yet to weep over her father’s final resting place. He regarded her solemnly with pale, watery blue eyes and a respectful nod before he turned away and made his way back to the rector’s cottage out of the cold, grey morning.

Catherine pulled her wool cloak closer about her. Though it had reached mid-morning, the sun had yet to make an appearance and the night fog still clung to the ground. She was alone. Alone in this small graveyard, and in the world. 

Tell me my dear reader, when do you most need everything in place?

Wednesday – On the Shelf

When I started thinking what I wanted this new blog to be I decided that I definitely wanted to have regular posting ‘themes’. Although I certainly enjoyed just posting whatever came to mind when I first started blogging, I really want Thoroughly Nourished Life to have a more regular presence. I want to be able to be a little more prepared, to have something to set myself to think about, or an already established avenue for writing about something that has come to mind.

With all that in my head I have decided that Wednesdays will be ‘On the Shelf’ day. Each week this post will share something book or word related. At the moment I am taking a class on issues in contemporary publishing (yes, on a Wednesday night) and I always leave feeling inspired to write something about the state of the bookly world.

Tonight, for the inaugural ‘On the Shelf’ post I offer a small essay on why in my world ‘words = love’.

Fully stacked bookshelves in a second hand bookstore

My heart's home.

I am a word addict.

Yes, hello my name is Amy and I am addicted to words.

I want to constantly consume them, be ever surrounded by them.
I want to be coated in words like that last peanut in the very corner of the packet that gathers with all the salt granules.

They feed me, my soul would wither without their healing, nourishing, sustaining power.

When the world seems bleak they bring their sunshine or an umbrella.

When disaster strikes I seek their solace and counsel.

I am never bored, for the merest hint of text and context can keep me entertained.

I fall asleep in the curve of a ‘C’.

And wake up falling down the slippery dip of an ‘S’.

I want to walk through my days holding the hands of a friendly ‘F’ and an entertaining ‘E’.

I am the girl who caresses covers and lovingly admires a book with every sense.

A touch for the cover, the pages.

The scent. New – where you can smell the printer’s ink still on the page. Old – catching a whiff of the lives this book has been part of.

Taste. What new recipes, what exotic treats, what form of sweetness will this book inspire in my mind.

Sight. Are you sharp with new edges, or crinkled at the spine. Is the text bold and new age, or so embellished that the book needs no other artwork.

Sound. Do you thud closed, or merely elicit a whisper as your pages open and shut.

I have a history with words. I was soothed with lullabies as a tiny baby, in English and in Danish.

My Dad would even make up songs to sing my sister and I to sleep, and let us crawl into his and Mum’s big bed so he could read and snuggle with us.

My Mum is the checker of assignments, the muse to a thousand stories and songs. The listener to many grand plans and myriad tiny plot changes.

She took my sister and I to countless children’s library days, reading groups, second hand bookstores and other places where words live and lurk.

My favourite way to spend time with my Mum is still going to the second hand bookstore. It is our Saturday morning tradition.

As we grew, my sister and I devoured books even more rapidly than we devoured m&ms and salted liquorice. We still do.

Yummy, indeed.

We give each other piles of books for Christmas, and birthdays, and every celebration in between.

Between the pages, in the midst of the lines, we find adventure though we never have to leave our armchairs.

We find knowledge and answers. And questions, always more questions, that lead to another book, another story, another place.

We understand the power that words wield.

The way my Mum and sister become so encapsulated in the world of the author that only a fog horn can get their attention.

The many, many sleepless nights my Dad has had because he can never put a book down once he starts.

The way my books are treated like precious children and I can never bear to part with any of them.

We are readers, listeners, talkers, texters, emailers, note leavers.

We are a family of many words. Some spoken, many written.

Nearly all of them out of love.

So yes, my name is Amy and I am a word addict.

Because words, in my mind, are synonymous with love.