The Stories We Share Tell the World Who We Are

“Storytelling, you know, has a real function. The process of the storytelling is itself a healing process, partly because you have someone there who is taking the time to tell you a story that has great meaning to them. They’re taking the time to do this because your life could use some help, but they don’t want to come over and just give advice. They want to give it to you in a form that becomes inseparable from your whole self. That’s what stories do. Stories differ from advice in that, once you get them, they become a fabric of your whole soul. That is why they heal you.” ~Alice Walker, in an interview about her work in Common Boundary, 1990

There is no doubt that Alice Walker is a story teller extraordinaire as her groundbreaking novel The Color Purple was heart rending and life changing for me and fans worldwide. When I read the gutsy, courageously penned tome, I felt as if I was in it, witnessing the pain of Celie who triumphed over seemingly impossible odds. I have no acceptance of abuse in any form, so attention to the book was hard to sustain and I had to immerse myself in manageable increments. When I reached the end, I celebrated her hard won freedom with her and all of the characters who escaped their tormentors and felt a sense of schadenfreude when the bad guys saw karma come to call.

When a story keeps me engaged, wanting more, going along on the ride with the characters, then I know it is a keeper, regardless of genre. I have adored reading since childhood which led to loving to tell stories. My imagination created characters that I would dialogue with in my mind. My teachers and parents encouraged my writing. If I could have spent the bulk of my schooling on reading and writing, I would have been in heaven. As it was, I barely tolerated math and science, sadly, no STEM brain here. I wish I had been more balanced in those areas.  I found myself daydreaming about a writer’s life and yet, I never pursued that profession formally. My degrees are in Psychology and Social Work, rather than English or Journalism. I wonder why. Somehow, professional wordsmithing found me. It arrived in the form of co-founding a magazine with my husband. We published Visions Magazine from 1988-1998 and sold the monthly mini-tabloid early that final year, six months prior to his passing from Hepatitis C. Interviews with notables such as Dennis Weaver, Shirley MacLaine, Bella Abzug, Leonard Peltier (while he was in Leavenworth and sadly, he is still incarcerated), Ben & Jerry, SARK, Arielle Ford, Debbie Ford, Jack Canfield, Grover Washington, Jr. Deepak Chopra, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama allowed me to tell their stories.

Although I am still an interviewer, more often now, I tell my own stories. Love and loss, illness and healing, addiction and recovery, joy and sorrow are the themes that permeate my writing. Everything can be a writing prompt. People who cross my path, articles I read, songs I hear, dreams I have, the 24 hour news cycle all line up for attention…ooh, ooh, pick me, pick me! What choice do I have, but to comply?

I have written a book, and contributed to those of other writers. I tell stories on podcasts on which I have been interviewed over the years. I told a story on stage back in 2015 when The Good Men Project sponsored a live event in NYC. My experience of telling the story of a series of interactions over the years with my parents, called Meet You At the Gate allowed me to stretch my comfort zones and introduced the world to these amazing people. Many years after their deaths (My dad died in 2008 and my mom joined him in 2010), they are present in many of the tales I tell. I will be sharing stories on the TED stage on October 1st.

I learn so much about people by hearing their stories. What shaped them? What strengthens them and gives them courage? How have they overcome adversity? What brings them joy?  These are essential questions that sometimes get answered in the process.

The stories I share with the world in both written and spoken form tell the world that I am a resilient thriver, a joy bringer, a playful soul, a vulnerable human being who is learning not to be a ‘human doing’. A recovering Type A+ overachieving co-dependent caregiver who has slowed at least to the point where she is a B+ chiller who notices that when she eases back, she actually accomplishes more than when she was running around at 100 mph with her hair on fire.

I will endeavor to tell stories with flare and pizzaz for the rest of my life. There is so much inspiration to be found.  So many stories to share.


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