As a businesswoman, I have spent many years and long hours building my career. I learned to think and act like a man because that is it what it took to rise to the top. Now, twenty years later, successful but single at the age of 37, I no longer feel comfortable in my "female skin." I am in the process of building my own company and am faced with a decision: do I go forward with the "masculine" model, or is there another option that will enable me to be a woman, a wife and a boss? One night, after reflecting on the choices I have made and how I want my future to unfold, I wrote a fairy tale about the power of femininity to help me visualize an alternative lifestyle. Last night I told it to a friend who strongly encouraged me to share the story with other women. So, though the tale is deeply personal, I am sharing it here in the hopes that it will inspire other women to embrace the powerful magic of the feminine...
The Princess and the Power
Once upon a time there was a little princess named Fortisa. Her father, the king, was frequently abroad on kingdom business, and her mother, the queen, was often left alone and spent much of her free time with the princess. The queen explained to Princess Fortisa that though she seemed to have a nice life, she was really trapped in the palace. The queen told the princess that she should learn to fight dragons herself so that she would never have to rely on a prince to rescue her; because if she were ever rescued by a prince, she would be trapped in a palace, too. So the queen and the princess disguised Fortisa as a knight and she went to train with the other knights. Fortisa worked hard and soon became the strongest, most accomplished knight in the land.
One day, Fortisa decided to leave the kingdom in search of her own adventures. She traveled to a far away land filled with many beautiful women. Fortisa longed to be like the peasant women, but she knew that if she removed her armor then she would be vulnerable to attacks by dragons.
While working hard to protect the people of this land from many different types of beasts, she met another knight who was also very accomplished, handsome and strong. Fortisa fell in love with him and she removed her armor and revealed to him that she was really a princess. The knight rejected her, however, because though her armor was off, he saw a knight, not a princess, and he was looking for a beautiful damsel in distress.
Fortisa was heartbroken. She collapsed near a beautiful lake and began to cry. As her tears fell into the water, they created a distorted image of her face and she saw that she was still battle-stained and no longer beautiful. All of a sudden, the lake began to glow with a bright, white light and out of the lake rose a beautiful, silken dress. The fabric was very fine and soft and it was radiant with the white light.
Fortisa washed the dirt and tears off of her face and put on the gorgeous gown. Overcome with a passionate desire to change, she threw all of her armor and her weapons into the lake and began to walk toward the town. On the road she came across a band of dirty, unscrupulous men. Fortisa began to panic because she felt naked and unprotected without her armor and weapons. There was no alternate way to go, however, so she slowly and cautiously approached.
Then, an amazing thing happened, as she got close to the men, her dress began to glow. The men saw the dress and were overcome with awe and respect. They parted to let the princess pass, and one uttered, "My lady," as she walked by.
A little further down the road, she saw two children who were cornered by a vicious beast. Again the princess panicked, "How can I protect them without my sword?" Fortisa walked closer to the children and again, the dress began to glow. This time the light was so bright and powerful that it blinded the beast and he ran off howling into the woods.
Far in the distance, a kind and handsome prince saw the bright light and was moved by its splendor. He decided to go discover its source.
The children invited the princess to come and have a feast with them, but it was getting dark and Fortisa was eager to get to the village, so she bid them farewell and continued down the road.
The sun started to set and Fortisa saw the mountains and the fields illuminated with a golden light. The clouds were a fiery pink and the colors of the flowers and trees radiated vibrantly. Fortisa sighed and was filled with love and happiness. The dress proved to be even more powerful than her armor, for when she fought with her armor on, she always came away with many cuts and bruises.
As Fortisa closed her eyes and took a deep breath to take in the beauty around her, she heard a deep roar and the sound of large wings. She abruptly opened her eyes and saw a giant, black dragon before her. She had faced this dragon several times before and the dragon's eyes twinkled to see her without her armor.
In the distance, the prince saw the princess and the dragon. He held his sword up high and yelled out. The princess turned and saw the prince, and though he was very handsome, strong, and brave, her heart was again filled with fear, for if he slew the dragon, she would become his prisoner; if he did not, however, she would surely be killed.
The prince quickly approached and the dragon made to attack. Fortisa bowed her head and asked the dress to help her; suddenly, she saw her dress start to twinkle. It looked like pale pink diamonds reflected in the light of the sunset. The dress started to sparkle more brightly, then a light shown out from the princess' chest. The light connected with the same point on the chest of the dragon and the dragon screamed in agony. She kept writhing and screaming as the light grew brighter and brighter and the princess grew more confident and strong. Finally, the dragon just dissolved into a cloud of black smoke.
By this time the prince had reached the princess and he realized that she was the beautiful light that he had seen in the distance. He immediately fell in love with her and asked her to marry him. Fortisa was very attracted to the prince, but her mother's voice rang out in her ears. She told the prince that she had no desire to be trapped in a palace while he ran around slaying dragons.
The prince laughed and told her that he did not have a palace yet, but that he had just inherited the land beyond the mountains. He said it was filled with waterfalls and exotic plants and animals and he would love it if she would come build a palace together with him and rule by his side. "And as for the dragons," he chuckled, "you just killed the last one."
Princess Fortisa looked into the prince's sparkling, loving eyes and she knew that what he said was true. So she gave him her hand, climbed up onto his horse, and they rode off into the sunset. They lived happily ever after in the magnificent kingdom that they created together.