The Stories We Tell

The Stories We Tell | Valued Voices

Once Upon a Time… as children when we heard these words we knew that we were about to enter a world that we had never been to before, a world where anything could happen.  A world of wizards and giant gatekeepers, a world where lions and tigers and scarecrows could talk, a world of magic.

Stories matter!

Recently I came across this sentence and it resonated with me, “Each one of us has a story that we tell ourselves and this story dictates how we behave and who we are.”

Stories guide us along our own path or connect us with the people who have come before us.  There is tremendous power in the telling of our own stories and the good news is – we all have a story to tell!

I firmly believe that one of our biggest missions on this planet is to share our stories and our experiences with each other, it’s all about helping those who come after us and letting them know they aren’t alone.

Sharing our own story takes courage. Brené Brown says, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” 

When we are brave enough to be authentic, and tell our real unvarnished story, we have an instant connection with people who are either going through, or have gone through, the same things we have.

There is enormous power in the simple act of allowing ourselves to be seen and heard, just as we are, with our own authentic voice sharing our own unique story. Most people just want to be heard and just want to know that they count.

In fact the stories that have had the most impact on my life are the stories about people who seem to have it all together, living normal lives, but in fact have come through tragic life struggles to become who they are today.

My maternal grandmother was one such person. She lived until she was 94 and she was healthy in mind and body until the day she died.  She was a great storyteller and I loved listening to her talk about the good old days.

The stories of her childhood in Minnesota in the early 1900’s and the years she spent raising 12 children on her farm in Southern Saskatchewan were so beyond anything I had ever lived through that they felt like they were from a completely different world.

As a child I thought these were mind boggling stories of a bygone era but as an adult I began to see the significance of the stories she shared.

I didn’t know her when she was a young woman. I only saw her as a loving grandmother with a gentle smile, white hair and beautiful blue eyes. She was smart, easy going, and had a great sense of humour and it took me a few years to make the connection between the white haired lady telling the stories and the remarkable pioneer woman who lived through some of the worst years on the Saskatchewan prairies.

I can hear her now as she told the story about the blinding winter storms and having to tie thick ropes together and attach one end to the house and the other to the barn, which was about 100 feet away from the house, so the boys could find their way back to to the house after doing their chores in the barn.

And the way she told the story, in her matter of fact way, about the ice forming into an inch thick layer on the inside of the windows every winter so you couldn’t see outside until the spring thaw, or hauling water from the well all winter, which was further than the barn from the house, because there was no running water.

These are real stories about real people who lived through some unbelievably hard times.

By sharing their stories with my generation we have that sense of connection and belonging to something greater than we are. And on a deeper level we understand that if our grandparents can find their way through incredible hardships then we can too.

There is value in honoring the stories of the people that came before us. Their lives contributed to who we are, and how we live our lives, not to mention the stories we tell.

Everybody wants to know that our lives have value and that our stories matter, so what story do you tell the world about yourself?