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Chapter 23 - Tell Me A Story

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of accompanying Tonya Lowe to book signings and an event in upstate South Carolina. If you don't know Tonya, she is the author of over 19 books, the last 6 of them published by Tyndale House. We left on Thursday late morning and by Sunday late morning when we arrived home, we were both hoarse but certainly not talked out.

We talked about many things from families to experiences to books. I know we could have spent a week together and not wanted for things to talk about. As we chatted and traveled we agreed that everyone has a story.

This became even clearer when we got to the Pacolet Library and women there shared their stories with Tonya and me. These stories ranged from happy to sad to triumphant but the one thing that resonated was that the library was a safe place and that the sharing was a catharsis, of sorts.

I believe the same is true with books. Books are a safe place to learn stories and to share stories. This is evidenced by the memoirs which have proliferated over the years. Memoirs help us see the world through someone else's eyes. While we might not agree with everything in the memoir, other people's lives are often instructive and interesting.

According to Cassandra King's book Tell Me A Story: My Life with Pat Conroy, Conroy would often be chided by his publicist because for every book he signed he'd say to the book owner, "Tell me a story." A book signing that would be scheduled for 2 hours would turn into 3 or 4.

We start learning family stories when we are young, before we have our own stories. Then we become the stories as proud or amused parents share the funny or cute things we do. We start to develop our own stories as we venture out in the world to school, to friends, to dates, to marriages. Not all stories are happy but they are usually educational in some way.

Our stories are powerful reminders of family, our own lives, our challenges, and strengths. It is important to gather as many of your stories as you can and write them down. Ask your parents about their own stories as long as you can. Tell your children their stories, family stories, and your stories because... EVERYONE HAS A STORY!

Here are some journals which may make writing down your story easier.

Moleskine journal - I love these for bullet journaling, travel journaling, and really for just writing stuff down. They are hardbound and have pockets in front and back.

Tell Your Life Story: The Write Your Own Autobiography Guided Journal (Hear Your Story Books) by Jeffrey Mason - This takes writing your story from childhood to your future.

My Life My Journey: Create a Keepsake, Journal Workbook with Guided Prompts for Preserving and Documenting Your Legacy by Kyle Schaetzl - This one starts with family trees which is pretty cool and then proceeds to ask questions for you to fill out.

The Story of Me by Peter Pauper Press - I have always liked Peter Pauper Press products as they are generally high quality. This one is no exception and pretty much does what the journals above do.

For your parents:

Tell Me Your Life Story:Mom or Tell Me Your Life Story:Dad by Questions About Me - Years ago Dave and I gave our parents calendars with a question per day about their lives. The only one to complete the calendar was my dad and I treasure that to this day. Maybe you can get your mom or dad to fill out a journal so you can capture their lives. It is worth a try!

Do you currently journal your stories? What do you use? Let me know.


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