This story, written by Marisa Goudy, is inspired by a piece simply named “A Story,” found in the Irish Schools’ Folklore Collection from the 1930s. It was collected by a student named Annie McLaughlin, as told by her father John Joe McLaughlin for St. Mary’s National School in Buncrana in County Donegal.
The original tale, found at Duchas.ie, offers a retelling of a traditional story of three women who have been disfigured by endless work, carding, spinning, and weaving wool. It’s the story of a “useless girl who lived happily ever after.”
In this version, Marisa imagines the scene in which the father, John Joe, tells the story to his daughter Annie. There really was a woollen mill in Donegal in the 1930s where they wove carpets for Buckingham Palace! In this retelling, details have been added to the original fairytale, which is an adaptation of a Brothers Grimm story.
Nicole Burgess is a clinically trained Soul-Led Leadership Coach for ambitious highly sensitive professional women leaders. She is also the host of Soulfilled Sisterhood podcast and founder of the Self-Care Summit: Improve Your Bottom Line and Your Personal Life. Over the last seventeen years she has coached, guided and collaborated with over a 1,000 women. She helps women end overwhelm and self-doubt, so they can lead with calm, confidence, and connection.
In addition to being a coach and a podcaster, Nicole is a weaver and handcrafts have long been part of her life. We call together these threads in our conversation:
- The process of weaving itself and the modern attempts to bring back lost arts
- What it means to be "useful" or "useless"
- How we celebrate the time it takes to make something by hand now, but how this tedious work was a burden to women in the past
- How to escape the projections of others; the only evil in this story are other people’s expectations
- A story with an ambiguous ending in which the not-so-virtuous heroine was victorious
- The way that modern, high-achieving women are troubled by similar outdated belief systems as are presented in the story
- The power of “the stool” which appears repeatedly in the story: how to allow yourself to pause, and make a conscious decision from stillness rather than feeling we need to be constantly busy
- Fiber and cloth offer a powerful set of metaphors, but we also celebrate the meditative practice of working with your hands. Contemporary research shows that dand crafting is a great way to deal with anxiety.
- Fite fuaite: an Irish term meaning “interwoven or inextricably connected.” Manchán Magan, a teacher, broadcaster, and ambassador for the Irish language writes about the Irish words for weaving at making.ie
- The final word from Nicole: trust the process, but also take your action steps
Music on the show is by the wonderful Beth Sweeney and Billy Hardy, a Celtic Fiddle and multi-instrumental Duo based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The traditional Irish reel we play at the start of the show is called The College Groves. Find out about their music and shows at: billyandbeth.com
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