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The Princess and the Mirror
an ADD Fairy Tale or how to find your Aura
Once upon a time, dearly beloved, when magic filled the air. That's how we always start fairy tales, you see.
There was a girl named Susan. Susan was not a happy child. She was rather too fat and her classmates, I won't call them friends just yet, would tell her so. She was rather too slow and dreamy and those not-yet friends would tease her for being late and forgetful. And some times they would laugh at her strange comments and walk away.
One balmy autumn day, Susan set off to a nearby woods to find an old friend, Miss Seashells, who had helped her once before. She trudged up the rutted carriage track and flumped down under the old oak tree, the leaves just beginning to turn orangey brown. A green pasture where Francis munched away sloped away to the distant valley. Susan called to Charlie, the red squirrel who lived in the top branches, but there was no movement from above. All was quiet and still, only an occasional bird call stirred the afternoon haze.
Disappointed, Susan walked down the track into the woods. She came to the spot where she was sure she had met Miss Seashells, but the pretty little cabin had all but disappeared; there remained only a few stones and some broken wooden beams. Had this really been a flower covered cottage just a few years ago? Or had she dreamt the whole story?
Now Susan was feeling really sad and depressed; she flopped on the ground to have a good cry. When her sobs were exhausted, she lay still with her head in her arms. First there was quiet, then she heard a little rustling noise just by her head. She peeked over her arms and saw a chipmunk scurrying around searching for whatever chipmunks feel is important. He stopped to look at her. She looked at him. They stared at each other for a long moment.
"Please, Mr. Chipmunk, Do you know where Miss Seashells is or Charlie? I hope he is alright."
Mr. Chipmunk said nothing, but he stayed quite still looking intently at Susan as if he wanted to communicate an important message.
"Mr. Chipmunk will you come with me?"
She reached out to pick him up. Mr. Chipmunk jumped into her outstretched hand, scrambled up her arm and settled himself on her shoulder. She stroked his little head ever so gently with one finger.
"I'm going to call you Chippy, that's easier than Mr. Chipmunk".
Chippy, chirruped in agreement. She turned into the woods.
They walked for some time until Chippy said "chirp, chirrup".
Susan saw a little path climbing up to the right, she turned and continued walking. Each time Chippy chirruped she found another path to take.
"Oh dear, Chippy, I hope you can take me home again. I will never find my way back by myself."
After what seemed like a very long time (though you know, my dears, that it wasn't more than half an hour) they came into an open grassy place surrounded by tall trees. Susan stopped to admire the space. it felt like a cathedral with soft golden sunlight sifting through the high leafy roof.
On the far side of the clearing, she saw someone, another girl. Here! Deep in the forest! How could there be another human being. She walked forward. The other girl was beckoning to her, laughing, and dancing. When Susan walked, the stranger walked too. When Susan stopped, the other stopped but continued to dance in place. The Other seemed beautiful and strangely familiar but so different.
As Susan approached she could see the other in more detail. Her hair formed a golden halo around her plump face. Nestled in her hair was what looked like a crown. Her eyes were sparkling blue; her mouth formed a wide smile exposing white teeth; dimples provided exclamation points on each side. She wore a baggy sweat shirt, "just like mine" thought Susan, and a wide skirt"just like mine" which twirled around her as she danced. "and she's fat!" And on her shoulder was a small animal which looked just like Chippy.
She reached out to the strange girl; she touched hard cold glass not soft human flesh. She was looking in a mirror.
"Why- it's me, but I don't look like that!"
Susan jumped at the voice behind her; she spun around. At first she was dazzled by sunlight, there seemed to be a ball of sparkling light dancing in front of her. When she blinked to clear her eyes a charming young girl, or was she a nymph, full of lightness was standing in front of her.
"What..? Who..? .."
"Do you look like this?"
Another mirror appeared beside the first with a reflection that Susan recognized all too well.
"What's the difference?"
The stranger did a little pirouette and danced away. Susan, open mouthed, looked from one reflection to the other and back again.
"Well?" insisted the fay. "What differences do you see?"
Susan stammered and finally managed "the hair is beautiful- like a halo, what a pretty smile, the dimples are adorable, why she looks like a princess- but she's fat too."
"Come! Today I, Carol, tell you that in your heart you are a gracious princess. The first mirror shows you what I see; the second is what you see. Now let's make your image match mine."
Susan ran her hands through her limp hair to fluff it up; it remained obstinately stuck to her head. She leaned over and shook her head and ruffled harder. This time the hair looked more like a tangled nest, but even so it provided a pretty frame for her heart shaped face.
Next she tried to smile; the result was more of a grimace. The effect was disappointing. Susan's shoulders slumped more with despair.
"Come, walk with me. You must feel like a princess in your body."
Carol took her by the hand and they walked down the long forested aisle.
"Shoulders back, chest out, chin up. Now smile. That's better. Now stretch up, bend down, touch your toes…"
"Oh no I can't do that.. "
"Yes, go on, shake your shoulders, now relax and walk like a princess. Do as I do."
They made a tour of the glade and came back toward the mirrors. This time the reflection in her own mirror was more alive. The smile was broader and more relaxed; two tiny dimples appeared. But the first mirror had a sparkle in the eyes and a radiance which she couldn't match.
Susan's thoughts shifted to the morning when the teacher had scolded her yet again for forgetting her homework and being slow to finish her assignment. Her shoulders slumped again and the shine which she had achieved faded. Carol placed her hand on Susan's shoulder.
"Susan, we will think about this morning later."
Susan saw the morning scene in her mirror.
"Right now we are giving birth to a princess. You saw the difference in the eyes! To get that sparkle, breathe deeply, down to your belly. Here" and she pushed Susan in her abdomen. "That's where the fire is. Breathe deeply to stir it up, exhale through your eyes to make the fire shine out and laugh."
Carol started to laugh. Susan looked at her and frowned.
"What's so funny? You're laughing at me-like everyone else. I thought you were my friend."
She started to cry.
"Laugh with me. You don't need anything funny to laugh at. Just laugh!".
Susan's sobs turned to giggles and then to hearty laughter. They laughed and laughed until they were exhausted and sitting on the ground.
Carol jumped up pulling Susan to her feet.
"Now, princess, What do you see?"
This time, Susan's own image displayed an exuberant copy of the model image. There was now a faint radiance surrounding the reflection. Susan did a few little dance steps in place and her mirror image followed and invented a few more.
She started to sing "I feel pretty, oh so pretty..".
The image in the other mirror stood still, clapping and cheering.
Carol took her in her arms. "Hug me tight. Come to see me again.".
Susan closed her eyes and put her arms around Carol and hugged. It felt good.
When she opened her eyes, she was on the ground near the old cabin where she had first seen Chippy. It was late afternoon.
It was several days before Susan could get away again to go to the forest. At school she tried very hard to walk like a princess: shoulders back, chin up, breathing deeply to stoke the fire. People still seemed to make unkind remarks, but somehow they didn't hurt so much. It seemed like she was wearing invisible armor.
The first day she had an afternoon free she ran, jogged gently, to the old oak tree and then into the woods. She found the old derelict cabin as before. She looked for Chippy, but all was quiet. She sat down to have a little cry, she was so disappointed. Soon a rustling in the dry leaves drew her attention. A chipmunk was sniffing around looking for nuts.
"Chippy! is that you?"
The chipmunk looked at her and scuttled away. Susan sighed. In a few minutes another chipmunk appeared. He sat and stared at her for a moment and then came toward her. She put out her hand; he hopped on and scrambled up her arm to sit in the crook of her neck.
"Oh Chippy, I'm so happy to find you!".
She set off down the path running until she was out of breath which wasn't very far. Soon, with Chippy's "Chirrups" guiding her, she arrived in the forest glade. All was quiet.
What to do? Where was Carol? Susan started to hum to herself and practiced walking around the glade like a princess, skipping a few steps and breathing deeply to stir up the fire. As she made the tour of the glade she saw her mirror materializing from the shadows. Her image was brighter than before. She had worked to make her hair stand up so that it framed her heart shaped face. Her dimples were more pronounced.
"So how did things go this week?"
Susan jumped at the sound of the voice. In the mirror, Carol was standing behind her laughing with her.
"Oh, OK. Mr. Johnson , the assistant dean, was nice to me. But the rest didn't seemed to notice much. But somehow it didn't seem to matter quite so much. I felt a bit safer anyway."
"Let's see what happened." Carol indicated the mirror.
Now the mirror was like a video camera following just behind Susan as she walked down the school corridor. Mr. Johnson approached her.
"Hi Susan. How y'a doing'? You're looking great today. Enjoy!"
"Yeah, I'm OK. Thanks, Mr. Johnson."
Next, three boys approached her. One turned to look at her as they passed. Then a group of girls approached. One called her "Hey Susan..", but Susan walked on past without replying.
"Do you remember when that all happened?" Carol asked. "What did you think of the boys?".
The mirror rewound to show the three boys as they passed Susan in the hall.
"Oh that's Kevin, I guess he was sneering at me. I don't know"
"Here, listen to what he was thinking."
The mirror replayed the scene again.
"Gee, Susan looks really great today. She has really cute dimples. I never noticed them before."
"That's what he was thinking? I don't believe it."
"Well, now Believe! What about the girls. One of them tried to speak to you and you didn't even answer her. Who was that?"
"Gee whiz, I thought they were laughing at me because I looked ridiculous trying to walk like a princess."
"Well, let's hear what she wanted to say."
The mirror replayed the scene.
"Hey Susan, did you know that the music group wants to put on "Hairspray" and we thought of you for lead role."
"Now let's see what could have happened." said Carol.
She indicated the other mirror which had now appeared. This time the magic Susan walked with a bounce, the air around her vibrant with energy. As Mr. Johnson approached, he again said
"Hi Susan, How y'a doing'? You're looking great today. Enjoy!"
Susan now replied "Thanks a lot Mr. Johnson, I'm feeling Great!. How are you? I wish you a hug-a-day." Mr. Johnson laughed and carried on softly whistling a little tune.
Next came the boys. As they came a breast of Susan, one turned.
Susan caught his eye and said "Hi there, Kevin. Have you got a game today? Good luck."
"Yeah, at 5:00 o'clock. Want to come along?"
"Gee, I'd love to. I'll be there."
Next, the girls approached. "Hey, Susan.."
This time Susan stopped and said "Hi, Maria, how's things?"
Maria replied "Susan did you know that the music group is planning to do "Hairspray" and we were thinking of you for the lead role."
Susan laughed cheerfully, wiggled her hips and did some salsa steps, " You mean because I'm fat."
Maria was a bit embarrassed, "No, no, well maybe yes, but you do have a nice voice. I've heard you sing."
"I'd love to. So even being fat can have its advantages." As she said this her smile spread across her face, the dimples appeared, and she glowed with warmth and happiness.
The picture faded in the mirror. Susan turned to look at Carol. Carol was looking at her with a whimsical smile.
"What do you think of that?"
"I..I don't know what to think. But it's not true.."
"Who knows? Maybe something else will come true...Princess."
Carol put her arms around Susan and hugged her tight. As before Susan closed her eyes and hugged Carol. When she opened her eyes she was again back in front of the old cabin, alone in the darkening afternoon.
It was some time before Susan could find time to go to the forest again. Many things had happened. She wanted to share them with Carol. She sang, skipped, and practiced her salsa steps as she made her way to the old cabin.
She sat down to wait for Chippy. It was very quiet. Maybe Chippy was already hibernating for the winter. Susan wasn't very disappointed; perhaps she didn't need to see Carol again.
As the afternoon faded, she saw the mirror shining in the shadows, or maybe it was in her own imagination. There she was up on the stage, her arms full of flowers, she was bowing to a standing ovation. Her wide smile framed by prominent dimples, her golden hair formed a halo around her head and she radiated a rainbow aura.
There you are my dears, and as with all good fairy tales, you know, the princess lived happily ever after.
And so with a kiss and a hug I wish you good-night.
ADD and the Mirror
This story grew from two seeds. The first was an article in Attitude Magazine about a girl struggling with her homework. Her parents put a mirror in front of her desk so that she could see herself as a hard working student. The second was the case of a person with a strong temperament. When he saw himself in a video he was shocked; he had had no idea how he appeared to others. Everybody has a mental image of who they are and where they fit in their own world. People who have a clear image which reflects accurately the world around them are most likely to be successful because they know what to say and when to say it.
People with ADD often have relational problems because they lack a clear mental image of themselves and acceptable social behavior. Some are just ignored, I always felt like a fly on the wall, unseen and unheard, or like Susan are the butt of jokes because they don't talk or act in tune with their social context. Others are more actively rejected because their behavior is abrasive and out of step, especially if they have the I'm-right-you're-wrong attitude .
A fuzzy mental image can also contribute to difficulty making decisions, setting priorities, managing time and organizing, all known issues for people with ADD and can cause difficulty sensing accurately, like Susan, how others are reacting to them.
A mirror, video, photographs even a tape recorder can be useful to help a person with ADD see and hear how others perceive him/her. They can also be used to practice changing one's appearance. When I was a teenager I had a friend who had braces. She would practice smiling in the mirror so as not to show her braces. At the time I thought she was rather vain; now, years later I appreciate better what she knew then, that appearance is important.
Coaching is like an intelligent mirror. A coach helps people with ADD by providing information about ADD and reflecting how ADD affects them in their lives. Coaching provides a safe and supportive environment for you, the coachee, to learn new ways of meeting the external world and your own internal world.
Copyright© 2003-2005, Sarah Jane Keyser, all rights reserved. www.CoachingKeytoADD.com