I am currently writing from my home office, (my bedroom) while my co-workers (my dogs) are hard at work on calls and research (snoozing or randomly barking). It is the new normal for us all. However, I do not want to talk quarantine or coronavirus or at home activities, or share workouts or how to not gain 10 pounds during this time of isolation. I figure there is quite enough, and more, out there for you all to consume.
Instead, I’m going to share something I started quite a while ago, but have been too afraid to actually share. Now is as good of time as any. It’s about stories. I love a good story. I love to hear one and love to share them. One of our family mottos, coined by my brother, is “It’s all about the stories”. We said that to each other quite often during the time we were in the middle of navigating that new land of taking care of our parents with one health crisis after another.
Since that time whenever one of the boys or I have one of “those” days with some of life’s inconveniences, mishaps or those things you just can’t make up, we remind ourselves that “it’s all about the stories” and it keeps life interesting.
During this time of creating a “new normal” and the uncertainty around us, we are creating and experiencing new stories, or at least, new chapters to our story that we would never have imagined.
Even before this current change of events, I had been thinking a lot about stories. My story. Your stories. We all have them. Our stories make us who we are, help us learn, foster growth, give us strength, and, ultimately can change us. Sometimes our stories are full and fun and great. However, they can also be deep and dark and hard. Of course, they can be both, which is likely the case for most of us. What we have to realize, though, is that we cannot be afraid of our stories.
They are ours. No one else has your exact same story. You may find someone with similar backgrounds, experiences and joys and heartaches. But your story is only yours. The next thing to realize is that it is up to you to determine what you are going to do with that story. And that is important. If you can hang with me I’ll get to that. . . .
I’ve learned a bit about our stories. I have learned that our story can not only grow as more is added and built on the storyline with new characters and plot lines. It can also change. Completely. And if you think it has come to an end, then you are selling yourself and our Creator short. There can always be a new chapter.
You see, part of my story really changed a few years ago when I lost my dad after a long illness, my brother suddenly during his prime, and then my mom – all within a very short time. That hard period changed me and made me part of who I am today. It became part of my story.
My story has changed again. It went in a completely different direction than I would ever have dreamed. Losing my marriage and my husband to alcoholism and experiencing all of the hurt, change and ramifications is not the story I ever imagined at this point in my life. For me or for my children. It has been hard and even harder to tell.
Some stories are difficult to share for different reasons. They may be too raw for a period of time, require time to process or to find the courage to speak, and, importantly, are not always just your story to tell.
You may also find your story is too big or ugly or true for some people to hear. I have found all of this to be true.
But here is the other thing about stories. They can be so many things for the listener. Entertaining, educational, inspiring, encouraging. For the teller or sharer, they can be all of those but also very healing. It can be a two way street.
So, if we can get over our fear and discomfort and find the right time and place to share, it can be a positive experience for everyone.
That brings on the big question: What will you do with your story? Whether you will use it, share it and how you will use it or share it. How you find the purpose in that experience and finding a way to make it matter by helping you and others. Or you can bury it, be afraid of it, or allow it to make you bitter, angry or stuck.
We all have different experiences and are all affected differently. What may be big and hard for one person may not be for another. Even seemingly small things can have an affect. What may not feel like the right time to share now, can change later.
I spent a lot of time sitting with my mom before her death. She would talk and share from her childhood or stories from my brother’s or my childhood. She shared little anecdotes from her childhood with her sister, little tidbits from dating my dad, their early years during the time my dad was in dental school, funny things I did as a little girl. For the first time she also talked about the hard period when she stayed with me while my dad waited on a heart transplant and how this was such a struggle because her own mother was at home fighting breast cancer. She shared good, funny, uplifting stories as well as some really hard ones.
How I wish I had more time to ask questions and listen!
Your story is what makes you who you are. It matters. Don’t hide it or be afraid of it. Whether it is a funny anecdote from your day or a pivot in your life, it is important and always worth sharing for someone.
And I am always up for a story and listening.
I’m thinking this would be a great opportunity to take the time to write or record some of your stories. . .
After you wash your hands.