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Book Review: Dancing with Wonder – Self-Discovery through Stories by Nancy King

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Dancing with Wonder by Nancy King takes the reader on a story making journey and teaches the reader how to create their own journey.

The title of the book Dancing with Wonder was so intriguing, it compelled me to read it. I had no idea that my image of storytelling would alter so drastically from hobby to therapeutic tool.

"The yearning to be heard without being judged is fundamental to our sense of well-being." This line captured and held my attention throughout the book. While I have always loved fables and other types of stories, I had never before thought to use them therapeutically.

King has written Dancing with Wonder to assist the reader in using stories to heal themselves and others. The story begins with a background of her own experience and them encourages the reader to form their own storymaking community. She gives the reader all the tools one needs to embark on this wonderful journey. The book is divided into chapters on Imagemaking, Storymaking, Experiencing the Storymaking Process and Story Journeys.

"Imagemaking" was the most surprising concept of the book. In this section, King details how to use clay, paints, and other artistic media to connect and solidify our unconscious thought processes. I was apprehensive initially because I have very little artistic ability. However, as she repeatedly exemplifies in the book, it is not a judgment of anyone's ability to create a vivid likeness, it is a means to access the unconscious thoughts that may be holding one back. The community is given clay, for example, and given 30 seconds to create something. It is the group discussion of what the image represents that often times reveals important information to the artist.

Another way she uses art is to have the participants paint themselves in 30 seconds. She then reads a story and they once again paint themselves. The comparison of the two paintings becomes the focus of the group process.

"Storymaking" describes stories that show the process of the creation of stories. In this chapter, there are several very moving examples of King's past group members that make the reader want to be a part of such a strong community.

"Experiencing the Storymaking Process" describes how the reader can explore being part of a story making community. A story might be read to the group and the members would then be required to write a story commencing, "In the beginning…" In this process, each person interprets the story that was read in a way that makes it personally meaningful.

"Story Journeys" is a collection of group experiences that serve to give the reader an idea of what a story making community can become. In this, as in every chapter, there are more examples of the lives King has changed through her story making skills.

In order to assist the lay reader in forming a story making community, King also provides sample structures for group activities, stories for the session and a selected bibliography. She encourages anyone with interest to use her book to create story making groups.

She cautions that "Storymaking is not a panacea. It cannot make everything better instantly or in the long run. It can provide a possibility for uncovering feelings, exploring, knowing, and perhaps making new choices."

Dancing with Wonder was created to facilitate anyone's story making journey. The author enables readers to "experience the joy of hearing, telling, and making stories."

As a consumer of fables and folklore, I thoroughly enjoyed how King enriched my ability to tell stories and to use those tales to assist with the healing process in others.

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About Alexandria Jackson