Yesterday, I was hiking with my 4 year old daughter Siena and she started to get antsy, so I said I would tell her a story. I asked her what kind of story she wanted me to tell, and she said, “Tell me a story about a banana slug.” Okay, uh...banana slug story it is. (For those of you who don’t know, banana slugs are these gigantic lime green creatures that live in Northern California and have a preference for hanging out in redwood groves. They really come to life this time of year.) Here’s the story I told Siena.
Once upon a time, there was a banana slug named Rachel. Rachel wanted to a ballerina, but Mama Banana Slug, Daddy Banana Slug, Big Sister Banana Slug, and Baby Brother Banana Slug all said, “Rachel, you can’t be a ballerina. You’re a banana slug. You have no feet.” Mama Banana Slug rolled her eyes. Daddy Banana Slug shook his head and looked disappointed. Big Sister Banana Slug said, “You’re not good enough to be a ballerina.” And Baby Brother Banana Slug just laughed at her.
Rachel cried. She cried and cried, but she couldn’t wipe her eyes because she didn’t have any hands either. So she blinked- hard- and decided never to listen to what anyone told her she couldn’t do.
While Rachel didn’t have hands or feet, she did have magical eyes, and she could see the best in everyone. When she looked at her Mama, she realized that Mama Banana Slug loved her dearly. When she told Rachel she couldn’t be a ballerina, she was just trying to protect Rachel from disappointment. Maybe Mama always wanted to be a ballerina when she grew up too, but it didn’t happen, and so she shoved her dream away in her heart and let it spill out all over Rachel.
When she looked with magical eyes at Daddy Banana Slug, Rachel saw that he was just afraid of losing his little girl. If Rachel became a ballerina, she might slug off to New York City, go to fancy ballerina parties, and leave Daddy all alone in the redwood grove. He didn’t mean to make her cry. He just couldn’t help clinging to his precious little banana slug.
When she looked with magical eyes at Big Sister Banana Slug, she saw that Big Sister felt threatened by Rachel’s dreams. If Rachel became a famous ballerina, Big Sister might not get so much attention from Mama and Daddy Banana Slug. Maybe Big Sister was afraid of sharing the spotlight, since she was used to getting a lot of attention from winning the 1 meter marathon every year.
When she looked with magical eyes at Baby Brother Banana Slug, Rachel saw that Baby Brother couldn’t bear to let her go. Rachel was his favorite. And if she became a ballerina, she might not have time for banana slug wrestling or mudsliding.
When she saw with magical eyes, Rachel realized that even though she felt hurt by how her family reacted to her dream of becoming a ballerina, they were doing the best they could. They loved her. They just didn’t realize that the world is a magical place, and that anything is possible. When they told her she couldn’t be a ballerina because she didn’t have feet, they were simply thinking too small.
But not Rachel. Rachel had a dream. And she wasn’t going to let anything get in her way. So Rachel started exercising her banana slug muscles until she could hurl herself in the air. After lots of practice, Rachel was able to fling herself high in the sky, but she always fell flop on her belly in a very un-ballerina-like way. With more practice, she could throw herself up in the air and spin around two times, but still- she belly-flopped into the mud with a splat. It was almost enough to make her give up hope. Maybe her family was right. What was she thinking? How could a banana slug be a ballerina when she has no feet?
Then came Max, the grasshopper. Max also had magical eyes, and he had been watching Rachel from behind a redwood tree. He watched her transform from slithering on the earth to spinning in gleeful circles in the air. He couldn’t believe his eyes. When he looked at Rachel, he saw a beautiful, elegant, talented ballerina.
One day, when Rachel was practicing, she threw herself into the air, spun around four times, and then Max leaped out of the woodwork and caught Rachel in mid-air. Rachel gasped and felt scared, but Max said, “Do not be afraid. I see you Rachel. And you are a ballerina, just like me.” Holding Rachel in his arms, he began to leap around on all six feet, twirling and gliding on tippie-toe. Rachel’s heart leapt too.
Then Rachel realized. Maybe she had been thinking too small too. While we can follow our dreams alone, in silence, hidden behind redwood trees, there's so much more joy to be had when we reach out to others and invite them to live our dreams with us. Maybe she didn’t need feet after all. Maybe all she needed was teamwork to live happily ever after.
Siena loved the story. She said, “See Mommy, Rachel can do anything.” Yes, little one. And so can you.
What about you Pinkies? Have others clipped your wings? Does your family see the mighty power that lies within you? Do you listen to the limiting beliefs of others? Do you carry those limiting beliefs within you? Are you ready to release them and spin high in the air with Rachel? Are you ready to call on your team and leap high in the sky? Wheeeee!!!!!!!
I dare you…
Lissa & Siena
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