Intro: Pounding bass note and a stirring fanfare of horns. Welcome to another edition of things to think about. Here's Stacy. The horns continue with a keyboard note held.Relaxing piano music is in the background. Welcome to the Things To Think About Podcast where we use fables and fairy tales to come to deeper truths about our subconscious world. I’m Stacy Casson and today’s tale explores how to start your journey. We will dive into this topic in a story I call, Ashes. And now, get comfortable and relax. Take a Deep Breathe in and exhale. A Deep Breath in, and exhale. A Deep breath in and exhale. And if you'd like, you can slowly...close...your eyes. Once upon a time, a girl allowed life to happen to her. She is currently huddled next to a hearth and covered with ashes. When she awakes, she only allows herself the barest of ablutions before starting her day. As she sits in the cold stream, she watches the water turn grey as it moves past her. She is clean out of necessity because if she ever dirtied her stepfamily’s things, they would further punish her. She is careful to never show any emotion other than melancholy distilled with gratitude. They constantly remind her of how lucky she is to have such caring benefactors. It is quiet in the stream and affords her the only moment of peace she is likely to have until Papa returns. “Oh Ma, how I miss you,” she silently laments. This will never do. Mama always told her to hold her head high. She is in the market. She must ensure she gets the best prices because her Stepmother pays her in disdain for every perceived wasted pence. The money is just enough for provisions and never enough to escape. Besides, Papa would be disappointed if she were not there when he returned from his travels. Someone bumps into her, “Watch where you are going!” she scolds and then encounters a mirror into her soul. Their eyes are warm and knowing and for a moment, she sees herself dressed in fine clothes surrounded by books and a warm fireplace. “My apologies,” they respond with a lingering touch. She takes a step and notices there is no jingle of coins. Instinct takes over and she rushes the stranger and tackles them. “Give it back!” she hisses, murder in her eyes. The stranger hands back her coin purse and she gets off of them. She walks away her hands shaking in indignation. She was tired of living in fear and giving away her power. She noticed that the local seamstress was looking for help. “At least your stitches are straight,” her stepmother had told her after she let out a dress for her daughter. Did she dare? She walked over to storefront and spoke to the seamstress. “My hands are getting twisted and I want someone to carry on my work. I have sewed clothes for the royal family but have had no children. Bring me some samples of your work and we can talk. I have a room in the attic and you will get a portion of the sales.” She thanked the seamstress and completed her shopping on auto-pilot. “If you keep walking in the clouds, you will continue to be an easy mark,” a warm voice sent shivers against her ears. It was the stranger again. “What do you want? Leave me be.” “Is that anyway to treat your fairy godmother?” they smirked. “You are supposed to grant wishes, not try and steal from me! What is wrong with you?” “You know, the questions you ask others are the questions you ask yourself” they responded. “You fight for other people’s property, but not for yourself.” “There is no magic dearie, unless you create it yourself. I gave you a push, but you have to decide if you want to start the journey.” This was a precious gift indeed – choice. What would you do? Will you stay in the ashes? Will you uphold unhealthy relationships or drop your burdens and take a chance on flying? Sometimes the princess can use her wits to get out of the locked tower. And now, you can take a deep breath in and exhale. A deep breath in and exhale. Deep breath in, and exhale. And when you're ready, wiggle your toes, wiggle your fingers, and slowly open your eyes. If you are enjoying this podcast, please subscribe and never miss an episode. Closing: Closing jazzy keyboard and thrumming bass. Hope you enjoyed today's segment. Tell a friend. See you next time. Music fades.