“There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.” – Douglas H. Everett

They say you can tell a lot about a person by discovering their favorite childhood fairy tale.

One of my all-time favorite stories was “The Ugly Duckling.”  What does that tell you about me?

I didn’t fit in much as a kid, and I still often feel like I don’t fit in.

As I watch the classic Disney cartoon, I can’t help but notice the Ugly Duckling has four “normal” siblings — as I do.  One more thing we have in common.

The Ugly Duckling — 1939 Oscar Winner

In the end, The Ugly Duckling finds his real family and learns that he is not an “ugly duckling” at all but rather a “beautiful swan.”  I’m still working on realizing this in a consistent and meaningful way in my own life.

Maybe when you see a swan you see a big, beautiful white bird floating on a pond.  When I see a swan I see a magical creature who brings hope of dreams fulfilled.  That’s one way God speaks to me — through the metaphors of animal totems.

swan totem

“In your dark night you may learn a secret hidden from modern people generally: the truth of things can only be expressed aesthetically – in story, picture, film, dance, music. Only when ideas are poetic do they reach the depths and express the reality.” — Thomas Moore, Ph.D.

I’m struggling through some challenging stuff right now in the duck yard of life.  Swan medicine helps keep me focused on my dreams instead of getting caught up in the day-to-day mud fights and pecking.


But calm, white calm, was born into a swan.”

— Elizabeth Coatsworth


(Animal Speak by Ted Andrews)


My photo, Dreamer, was shot in Monticello, MN where hundreds of migrating trumpeter swans appear annually from mid-December through the end of February.    


70 thoughts on “dreamer”

  1. Hi, Galen! ~

    We have more in common than just the Ozarks, right?

    Thank you for stopping by and sharing a little bit about yourself — I’m enjoying getting to know you through your blog posts and comments! XO

  2. Thanks for pointing out this post to me. Swans. I remember seeing some at a tulip farm in the Netherlands. They were so beautiful swimming around on the pond. Just like your description of them. What a poignant connection to them in the story you told about your childhood. I never fit in either, and much of my young life, as well as my adult life, was spent trying so hard to belong.

  3. How very interesting! i didn’t fit either but somehow that didn’t always make me sad : ). I wonder what my totem is!!! Gotta think about it – my favorite fairy tale as a kid, however, was Beauty and the Beast … Could it be I am a beast???

  4. Hi Linda When I was younger, I did my best to find a group I would fit in, but I never did. I always thought something was wrong with me that I couldn’t seem to fit in anywhere. But I realized that I didn’t really have to. This is me and I don’t have to be like anybody else. I am more able to embrace my individuality now because this is me and I cannot change it. I can only learn to accept it. And I am beautiful just the way I am… we are all beautiful just the way we are.

    Thank you for this beautiful post, Linda! Take care and God bless, beautiful swan!

  5. Linda,

    Glad to have this discourse here. Thanks for the platform. I guess there are many cultural aspects when I say that I did not associate with fairy-tales. Of course, we have several tales in India but they were stories we heard for pleasure and forgot them. Moreover, there was not one character which I could relate to. All the stories had a moral and then bang! they were forgotten. Single characters like Snow White/Cindrella/Ugly duckling and others were not there in the folk tales of India. They were more a collection of characters. And, when the word ‘fairy-tales’ were mentioned, it was only the Western ones; I never thought of any Indian tale while thinking of a fairy-tale. While looking at the pattern of tales in India and the States, I reckon that the tales in India were quite community-based while those in the West focussed on individuals – Snow White, Cindrella and the like. The Western tales also seemed to provide a romantic notion like finding the “right” man, etc. In the Indian tales, the stories generally talked of certain value system to adopt when one lived together as a society.

    “From your description of your childhood questions about Bible stories, I’m guessing that you were a very analytical child — haha! I’ve noticed this in you as an adult, too. I have observed your literal interpretation of what I would characterize as innuendo or metaphor… I find this intriguing …”

    Linda, now I realise about the metaphor part of the Creation story but as a child, I didn’t. The comment that even now (as an adult) I don’t differentiate between metaphors and literal interpretation, leaves me intrigued. I have to observe this in me and please do point out when you come across such instances in me, Linda. I cannot identify this trait by myself

    And, I also would be interested to know of your POV regarding fairy-tales and children.

    Thanks for the time, Linda.

    Joy always,

  6. I never fit in – ever. During the early years, I’m sure I cried myself to sleep more times than I remember. I wasn’t blonde, or perky, or perfect. I had chocolate colored eyes, read a lot, listened to strange music, and my feet were huge. At some point, I stopped carrying about what people thought and like the swan flew with grace. I remember the story and often wondered if one day I would be beautiful like all the others…and then I realized I was always beautiful. So funny the evolution of a person. I hope you come through whatever is challenging you, Linda.

  7. Dear Alpana,

    Your comment reminds me of a t-shirt I used to have with these words printed on it:

    “Sure, I live in my own little world…but, it’s O.K.! Everybody knows me here!”

    When I was a little girl we used to watch cartoons called “Fractured Fairy Tales” which sort of reinvented the stories and made them funny. Like the way they sometimes turn out in real life — haha!

    Fractured Fairy Tales: Sleeping Beauty http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwibf6t7Scc

    Thank you for visiting and sharing! XOXO

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