How Stories Connect Us

Last evening I attended the monthly meeting of a women’s networking group I belong to in Kingston, Ontario where I live. Instead of the usual dinner and speaker, the evening was entitled All About Us. Whoever felt so moved, got up during dinner and told a story from her life tthat illustrated something about her that likely few in that group knew.

One woman told a story about being adopted and searching for her birth parents, one about how she met her now husband on an island in the Caribbean, one introduced her sister who was her guest and spoke about how much they and their siblings meant to each other having survived, and perhaps in spite of, a difficult childhood. Even I told the story of my connection with my ‘special friend’, a young boy who was abandoned by his mother who I became a ‘big sister’ to when he was 3, and is who now a grown man and part of the family I have with my life partner.

The stories were heartfelt – some were very amusing, some hilariously funny, some touching, some quirky, some sad yet uplifting. What they had in common however was that they all opened a window to seeing someone in a new way, a pathway to perhaps a different kind of conversation with people many of whom had been just acquaintances before.

And it made me think about how often we cross paths with people, and say something not much deeper than ‘hi, how are you? nice to see you’ and about what we miss when we don’t take the time to chat longer and learn more.

What would be possible if we took the time to inquire a little deeper? How could a story enhance that connection?

Reminder to self: Next time, spend more time with acquaintances in a real conversation, share a story, look for the story, and be open to a new and rewarding connection!

At a Crossroad

People often ask me what brings clients to coaching.  The answer is different for everyone, but there are common themes.  And the clients that do come my way usually say a variation of the following:

  • I’m at a crossroad
  • My work/my life isn’t satisfying/challenging/fun….
  • I know I’m not doing what I’m meant to be doing
  • I feel stuck
  • I don’t know what my next step should be
  • I feel like I’m in a fog
  • I want to change things, but don’t know how
  • If I could just figure it out…

There are times in our lives when all of us find ourselves at a crossroad.  The path we have been going down, while it may once have had appeal, had status, is lucrative, or even challenging, is not bringing deep satisfaction, joy and fulfillment.  It feels like it’s going nowhere. Like you are going nowhere.

However, when you stand at a crossroad and look up and around,  what you begin to see is an opportunity to change direction, to follow a new path, to discover what lies on the road ahead.

The known is comfortable – until it isn’t anymore of course.  So the first step to change is recognizing and accepting the discomfort or dissatisfaction.

The second is allowing yourself to stand in that place long enough to understand the messages it has for you.  Sometimes that’s painful – at first – but eventually it brings enlightened awareness about what really matters to you.  You can see, and almost taste, the possibility and probability of change.

When that happens, a shift occurs: the new road appears, and beckons, and with a little courage and encouragement, you step out of stuck and into that which you have longed for.

Have you ever been at a crossroad?   Did you change to a different path?  How did you do it? 

Or are you there now? If so, take heart. Allow yourself to feel what is true about that for you, what you long for.  Know that if you are willing to listen to and explore what messages are there for you, the change you desire is well within your reach.

First Steps

This morning I woke early, restless, and picked up a book on my bedroom bookshelf that I realized I’ve had for a long time and not yet read.  “Dropped Threads” is a beautiful compendium of personal stories about women’s lives, edited by Carol Shields and Marjorie Anderson. I was on the third story by Isabel Huggan when a sentence leapt out at me.

In her musings about life learnings, Ms. Huggan observed:  You cannot know the path through the forest until your feet are making their own footsteps in the ground.

I like how this statement simply captures the notion that our journey is our own.  To me it means that the path is a unique one and that the road ahead will only be discovered step by step, with intention, curiosity, and determination to move forward.  No-one else can walk there for you, or for me.

So my questions to you this morning are:

  • What is true for you about your own path and the road ahead?  
  • Where have your footsteps led you till now, and where might they be taking you?
  • What is your first step?