Years ago I attended a four-day personal growth workshop, where for the first three days we were not allowed to discuss our "story" with other participants. What this basically meant was that we couldn't share where we were from, what kind of work we did, anything about our families or other personal information. Not gonna lie . . . it was a massive struggle for me.
In hindsight it was an excellent way of learning to be in the moment. It also sort of threw the whole concept of meaningless small-talk right out the window. I walked away from that weekend with this idea that "story" was a bad thing.
Truthfully though, I think there may have been a semantic misunderstanding. This week has been filled with references to story - and I think I've peeled apart some of the differences, and why it is in fact very important to share our stories with each other.
The "Bad" Story? That would be a victim-story, and also being in a place where your story, or your past defines who you are today. All of that is no bueno.
The "Good" Story? Well let's start with Pam Grout's new book Art & Soul Reloaded. I could literally share her entire chapter on story-telling here . . . but let's stick with just a few short quotes:
"The Kalahari Bushmen believe that a man's story is his most sacred possession. They know something we've forgotten. Without a story you haven't got a country, or a culture or a civilization."
She continues . . .
"When we fail to tell our story, we lose part of ourselves. When we keep quiet, don't tell, we lose our footing."
"Stories connect us to ourselves, and to one another."
This is so, so true! I often say that the loneliest times in my life have been as a Mom. When my kids were small I felt isolated and unhappy. As they've gotten older I've had moments where I felt like I couldn't share any of the parenting bumps in the road because I was sure I was the only one whose kids were doing crazy shit. Mmmm Hmmmm. I know. Which is why I occasionally write my Mom-centric blog posts and have a nutty idea that someday I'll do a mama-podcast. Because when we share our stories not only does it liberate us, but if someone else can hear it and say "Me Too"? That's what counts . . . we're not alone!
One of my other favorite quotes about story comes from Brené Brown (who I love and just saw speak about her new book this week . . . it's in the reading "on deck circle" . . . ):
"When we deny the story, it defines us.
When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending."
Oooh YES. So much that. Not sharing our stories can keep us sitting with feelings of guilt and shame. When they are spoken, they lose that power over us!
What are your stories? (The Good, The Bad & The Ugly!) Are you carrying them close, letting them define you? Or owning them and writing a brave new ending? Leave a comment or send me a note - I'd love to hear!
Love & Light,
P.S. I'm creating the content for my photography/life-coaching/personal development retreat at the moment (San Miguel de Allende Mexico in April 2018 folks - it's going to be ah-may-zing!), and have decided that it is going to have a focus on story. Taking photos that tell a story, journaling with your photos, and a hefty dose of my favorite kids books circa 1974-ish. You know it's going to be good! Sign up to get more details below!
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