My storytelling father always seemed to be able to hold our collective breaths with his tales of ghosts and the undead. You knew how effective his scary stories were by the number of under the bed inspections that were held in our house. I’m sure my mother appreciated it since my father worked at nights at the New York Times. My father’s imagination and storytelling were legend and so were our nightmares. Just don’t ask me to go down to your basement.

I was listening to “The Second Half of Life” in my car last week. The author, Angeles Arrien, PH.D, talked about how Storytelling can trigger memories, associations and one’s imagination

She went on to recount a true story by Dr. Charles Garfield who has written about high performance people
It unfolded something like this:
Back in 1984, Dr. Garfield encountered a toll booth employee on the Oakland/San Francisco Bridge who was dancing to loud music that was blasting from his toll booth. The doctor asked what was going on. The dancing man in the booth said that he was having a party. What about the other people working in the other booths? Oh, they were not invited to his party. Loud horns blasted from impatient drivers (don’t you just love them) and ended the conversation abruptly but the doctor made a note to find the dancing man again.

And he did.

The dance party was still going on. The Dancing man remembered the doctor and asked him what the other 16 booths looked like to him. The doctor had no clue. “No imagination, no imagination” was the reply that came from the toll booth. “Look again, look again.”

The doctor was stumped, gave up and asked for an answer from the dancing man.

“Vertical Coffins. These 16 people come to work everyday at 8:30 and die in their booths and then at 4:30 they come back to life just in time to go home. They look like Vertical Coffins.”

“What makes it different for you?” The doctor needed to know why this one man was so happy.

“I have a corner office with glass on all sides. I can see the Golden Gate Bridge, Berkley Heights, and San Francisco and while thousands of people travel everyday to visit, I get to live it. I get to dance. I get to do what I love.”

So many of us don’t get to live the lives we are entitled to. We go by someone else’s rules and expectations and we forget that we even had dreams that were so full of hope and adventure. We find ourselves getting by on “no imagination, no imagination” and we struggle in our own vertical coffins.

How would it feel to dismantle one or two of those vertical coffins that keep you from what you really want to do? It could be as simple as saying “No” to some of the requests that others pour on you (and not feeling guilty!) so that you can have 30 minutes to read, take a walk or just sit and listen to your own heart beat. It can be as grand as reexamining where your life is going: does the job do it for me, would going back to school open me up again or would Jimmy Choo’s heels really make me feel better? The latter was what Gwyneth Paltrow asked me….in a dream. I assured her that they would.
So it might be a little stretch but how about try taking a look at one of your vertical coffins and screaming “boo” at it and making it go back under your brother’s bed?

Your brother will get over it. Eventually.

Author's Bio: 

Branching Out Creative Life and Career Coach, Elizabeth Cassidy, started her coaching practice with the belief that Baby Boomer women have the power to change their lives by tapping into their courage and creativity: courage to get pass the roadblocks, the fears and the doubts and creativity in the form of inspired and innovative solutions that will help Baby Boomer women move forward in their lives.

If you long to change careers or explore new business possibilities, take that unfinished manuscript out of storage, paint with Paris as a backdrop to your artistic side or become happier by peeling away those old tired layers of insecurity, let Branching Out Life Coaching become your co-creative partner.
Get ready to take a self discovery journey as you become fearless, fabulous and fall in love with yourself and the life you know you should be living.

Saying "yes" to what you want and need in life, along with believing in yourself can be daunting. As your co-creative partner, Elizabeth will be there to offer support, motivation/accountability and chocolate when needed.

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