Blog series; Befriending Griselda.

It’s not just tusked lions, witches and battle-scavengers that Meylyne and her friends must face if they are to succeed on their journey. They must also overcome their “Griselda moments” as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt used to call them – moments of fear, sadness, jealousy, etc. This series explores the friends’ Griselda moments.

These moments show up in every hero’s journey – most likely yours too. Read on and see for yourself!


Chapter Sixteen; When Your Castle is a Prison

“Don’t think that because your prison is a castle, it’s any less of a prison.”

I read this writing prompt the other day and I loved it! As a theme, it shows up in many stories, movies, fairy tales and poems. In modern stories, it often shows up as the trappings of power—like when Spiderman says, “with great power comes great responsibility.” You might think it would be cool to have super-powers, but think of the expectations placed upon you! For many of us, this responsibility looks scary, so we avoid it.

For some, however, avoiding responsibility isn’t in the cards. Take Meylyne, for example. In this chapter, she reveals the secret she has taken pains to hide her entire life. She has always believed that she is a freak for this secret (and for her alchemical powers) but to her surprise, those around her are impressed by them, not disgusted! Still, she doesn’t believe them. Not only because she can’t accept the piece of her that makes her feel so different from the others, but also because she’s afraid of the responsibility that comes with these powers. She has spent her whole life hiding in her brilliant mother’s shadow. I suspect she’s quite comfortable there! Now she’s the one to whom others are looking to defeat the Thorn Queen and save Glendoch from falling into shadow, and she’s terrified that she’s not up to it.


Chapter Fifteen; Overcoming Shadows – Part Three

In the first two parts of this article I talked about the importance of overcoming the shadow, and using affirmations to achieve your goals. Now I want to talk about the importance of understanding the intentions behind our goals. Consider the following;

“Shivering but rapturous, the warrior stood in the snow on a wind-beaten path in the Alps. His olive skin was chapped and his eyes were watery from the icy wind. But he felt no discomfort. As he looked across the white peaks, he saw faint green plains in the distance. Those plains were Italy, and the twenty-nine year-old warrior, named Hannibal, had been dreaming about this moment since he was nine years old.”

These are the opening lines from one of my favorite books, called HANNIBAL AND ME.  Hannibal was an amazing military leader who, at the insanely young age of 29 had already almost achieved a lifelong goal of conquering Rome. He led battles resulting in the death of one in four Romans. Many Italian cities switched sides, swearing their allegiance to him. All that had to happen for his success to be complete was for Rome to surrender to him. And that, it seemed, was his ultimate goal.

But what was the intention behind Hannibal’s goal of conquering Rome?


Chapter Fifteen; Overcoming Shadows – Part Two

Katie,* just turned ten, sits in the audience, her hands cold with sweat. When her name is called, she hurries toward the piano. Her mind is a blank—her focus solely on getting through her piece as quickly as possible. Opening her music book, she puts her fingers on the keys and they begin to fly. Somehow, they make no mistakes and before she knows it she has finished! She turns, beaming at the audience as they applaud.

A few children later, it is Jonathan’s* turn to play a piece on his violin. He is in Katie’s grade. She has never heard him play but she’s heard from his teacher that he’s very good. The minute his bow touches the strings however, he goes too fast. The violin squawks and screeches. He stops playing half-way through his piece, red-faced and shaking as he returns to his seat. It is obvious he is mortified by how badly he did. Katie feels bad for him. He must know the piece inside out, so what happened?

It’s possible that his shadow had something to do with it.


CHAPTER 15; Overcoming Shadows – Part 1

“Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” – Jung.

I love this quote by Carl Jung in which he addresses the importance of knowing yourself in order to have a fulfilling life. In the Hero’s Journey, the Hero (or Heroine, in Meylyne’s case), has to overcome myriad external obstacles (demons, curses, hurricanes, etc.) in order to reach their destination. But often those external obstacles are not nearly as tricky as the internal obstacles they have to overcome, such as fear, jealousy, a lack of self-worth and so on. For these latter obstacles, it is essential to face up to one’s personal demons and that is a lot easier said than done!

Carl Jung said that we all have a shadow—a part of ourselves that we refuse to accept. Often this is because we are ashamed of it. Maybe it’s a longing to be adored by our peers or family. Maybe it’s a desire for revenge. In fairy-tales, the shadow is often represented by the ugly crone that does not get invited to the party, so she places a curse on the parties’ hosts, like in Sleeping Beauty or Beauty and the Beast.

Similarly, when we refuse to accept our shadow … refuse to invite a part of ourselves to the party that is our life, our shadow curses us. This usually shows up in bad, self-destructive behaviors like deliberately doing badly in school, bullying, smoking, vandalism and so on. Do you know anyone like this?


Chapter 14: Why we can’t help but look those gift-horses in the mouth.

In this chapter, Grimorex offers Queen Scarlet the gift of Meylyne’s alchemy and she asks what he wants in return adding, “this sort of generosity rarely comes without strings attached.” In this case it is normal for Grimorex to bargain with the lions in this way, but do you think that expectation happens in other situations too? If you give your friend a gift, or do your friend a favor, do you expect something back in return?

You might say no—that generosity with strings attached isn’t generosity at all—it’s a debt. I had a friend once who, when we fought, used to bring up all the favors she did for me to illustrate how I was a bad friend. “I did this for you and I did that for you,” she would fume. I remember thinking afterward, “if I’d known your friendship would come at such a price, I never would have accepted it in the first place.”

As my resentment grew, I reciprocated with list of my own—all the acts of friendship I’d done for her that she had failed to appreciate.

In other words, we both turned our relationship a scorecard.