Write Team: Telling our stories

“Our greatest desire, greater even than the desire for happiness, is that our lives mean something. This desire for meaning is the originating impulse for story ... Stories link past, present, and future in a way that tells us where we have been ... where we are, and where we could be going.” Daniel Taylor: The Life-Shaping Power of Our Stories

In January 2015, I flew to a mountain resort called The Hideaway in Monument, Colorado, to attend a weekend “Story Telling Seminar” led by Carol Kuykendall. Kuykendall is a Storyteller Coach who teaches storytelling workshops across the United States.

We learned the value of telling our stories, how storytelling helps us know ourselves, and relate to one another better.

In June 2018, I was invited by the La Salle library to share some of my Write Team columns about growing up in the Illinois Valley, as part of the Bi-Centennial Celebration of the state of Illinois.

After sharing some of my columns relating to growing up in this area, I invited my audience to share “minute memories” of their own experiences. It proved to be a delightful evening!

I was pleasantly surprised that many of my friends and neighbors attended.

We talked and laughed about customs of the past and how “it used to be” and how it is now. For example, we compared how children today might have cell phones, while “back in day” we simply stood on our friend’s porch and hollered their name. Her mother would call back if our friend was available to play, or not.

Why is it important to share our stories? And to listen to the stories of others?

There are many benefits:

Emotional, autobiographical storytelling, as well as writing about events and people who have mattered to you, has a number of benefits.

Realizing your story can help others.

The connection formed by sharing our stories builds resilience.

Or sometimes we entertain others by recalling funny situations in our experience.

Stories can be healing to ourselves and others, as we pass along lessons we have learned.

Storytelling helps different generations relate and learn from one another. It enables us to hand down a legacy to our children and grandchildren. When I shared some of my childhood experiences with our granddaughter, Ashley, many years ago, she said: “I wish I could have been a little girl when you were, Grandma!”

It was fun sharing with several of my granddaughters the dating customs of the 50′s and the story of how I met Grandpa!

Stories teach us to love, to forgive others, to be kind. We learn that our experiences are not that different from what others have. We provide role models for handling difficult chapters of our lives, helping others make good choices, or understanding the results of wrong choices we have made.

Stories can help us share our faith! As a speaker consultant for Stonecroft Ministries, I have had the privilege of assisting Christian believers in putting together their faith stories for presentation and assisting others come to personal faith.

Stories can entertain too! We can laugh together as we recall funny episodes of our lives and experiences--how it “used to be” in the “old days!”

Storytelling often lacks strict structure. Recall how various members of your family may disagree on what year a certain thing happened, what someone said, or didn’t say, and other details! The personalization of a story by a storyteller might mean he or she tells it with a different emphasis, or even a slight change in details or lessons taught.

Our family enjoyed sitting around the dining room table to share our stories. Others may sit around a fire or have a picnic. Today we might text or Facebook, but I still think “in person” stories are best!

Storytelling is a great teaching tool – one of the oldest known to mankind. Before there were printing presses, typewriters, computer tablets or laptops, there were stories!

It can be a great method of bonding among families and friends, helping us escape our emotional loneliness and connecting us with others.

Carole Ledbetter is a former, long-time Write Team member who resides in Ottawa.