Making a List
I made a list of the roles like wife, mother, grandmother, sister, niece, aunt and friend that are part of my life and in many ways have defining moments that bring mixtures of joy and sadness but make my life richer than I could imagine without them in it.
I listed things in my life that answer the question, “What do you do?” This list has changed over the years as the things I have done for work disappear and other ones take their place. I have learned from everything I have done like owning a business or two with my husband, teaching school, helping with an early childhood program and babysitting in my own home when my children were younger. They offered opportunities to interact with others, learn skills and help me grow to be the person I am today.
Today when people ask me, “What do you do?” my answer is, “I’m a speaker, writer and storyteller.” I think it seems like a straightforward answer and yet one time the person came back with, “So what do you do?”
I chuckled, shook my head and wondered if he had not heard my first reply. Now I realize that there are many things interwoven into those three things I do. My answers to questions usually involve some type of story rather than short answers. My husband often jokes that I need to learn to do a “Reader’s Digest Condensed” version as some time the storytelling takes over and people can’t ask more questions or tell their own stories. I think I need to work on the good listening skills so I can hear the stories of others more clearly and more often. But the fun is in the story.
The storytelling and writing go hand in hand and I am recording my family stories for the children and grandchildren to not only hear now but have for later. I take the family stories I have heard from generations that preceded me, add in the mementos and artifacts collected and kept, sprinkle in stories of my youth and the adventures we have had as a family and use these to create a legacy to help the next generations more about where they came from and how this helps make them who they are.
The speaking adds into this as I teach workshops on Preserving Family Memories and Everyone Has a Story and Stories of Choices and Transformation.
I take what I have learned and am working on with my own family memories, the good, the bad and the terrible and teach others the importance of telling the stories to the next generation so we get personal glimpses of history through the lives of our family.
Writing the stories for others to read, whether on a blog post, an article, short stories or a book gives people the opportunity to read and reread their favourite parts. The writing of non-fiction can offer encouragement to others not as far along a journey as I am. It can help with personal healing too. Writing and speaking can also be a way to educate people about topics near and dear to my heart such as having the Courage to Include and what that should and can look like in schools, workplaces, organizations and communities.
As I made the list and checked it over I realize that most often I tell people I am a writer, a speaker and a storyteller. These take the lead. Further examination reveals the teacher, mentor and advocate woven into the fabric of these three interlocking parts of what I do. They are encouraged by my family and add to my roles as wife, mother, and grandmother, titles I wear proudly. I use my abilities in writing and editing to help my grandchildren with their high school and university papers, which allows me to be involved in their busy lives and learn things along with them.
My many roles, the things I do and enjoy all are part of who I am and yet not one of them on their own can possibly let you know who I am. Each part adds to the diverse nature of an individual and looking at the lists I made I realize that they all are about connections; connecting with family, connecting with audiences, connecting with readers and connecting the past and the present to prepare for the future.
When you meet me I hope you see the fun I have capturing the stories to tell to others and the enjoyment of making new connections while celebrating my abilities and the connections I already have.