My mother was a storyteller.  For as long as I can remember, and especially as I got older, she would sit at the end of a visit and share stories from her childhood.  The stories she told gave me wonderful insights into her life and what shaped her to become the mother I knew.

The stories were not always happy stories.  Some were sad and filled with grief, loss and anger.  These were usually the stories that were shared many times and I always felt she was trying to heal and resolve her feelings each time she told them.

Over the years, as I stepped more fully into doing the work I do, I became very interested in people’s stories.  What brought them to do what they are doing now? What shaped and inspired their lives and their choices?  What happened along the way that led them down a different path than the one they had imagined as a child or young adult?  

Listening to my mother’s stories, I began to see how her story shaped my own.  I started seeing family patterns and how people in my mother’s stories shaped my own life.  I began to see where I made some choices that were based on my mother’s family patterns, like marrying an alcoholic at a very young age.  Her stories helped me see those in her family that got stuck in certain patterns and this awareness helped me realize that I didn’t want or need to be stuck in these patterns for the rest of my life.

The stories were not always stories of sadness or anger.  There were stories of creativity, play, and laughter.  It took me a long time to connect with these parts of the stories but over time, my memories were connected more with these than the ones of sadness.

Hearing, remembering and honoring our family stories helps move us forward in our own lives.  We can learn from others so we don’t have to repeat the stories of sadness, anger and fear.  Instead, we can choose to connect and bring forward happiness, play and laughter.

I feel we have lost something because we have lost our ability to share our stories and listen to others stories.  Living in the moment is important, but we need to balance this with the ability to remember where we came from and how we got to where we are now.

This blog is the first of a series where I will be writing stories that have been shared in classes I have taught over the years.  I thought this might be a good time to start sharing them.  I hope you enjoy them.