“We lose the magic whenever we stop telling our story and begin to wonder how we’re doing, if we’re selling it, if the listener likes us. Just tell the story and go on to the next one. All of us are full of stories the world might want to hear.” - Tennesee Williams
As the page turns into another New Year, a new space arises for the unfolding of our story in the world, just as the sun rises every day, giving us a fresh start. Whilst we can't control everything that happens, as author of our story we have a starring role to play in determining what emerges on the new page of 2019. That sounds great until all the internal and external voices come clamouring - 'Yes, but....who am I to write a book, sing a song???' To the Yes Buts, we can reply - 'Why not? - Why not me, Why not this year, Why not write this page of my story, Why not make it fun and give it a go?'
Here's some reflections on the WHY, HOW, WHEN & WHERE of telling our story and making 2019 magical!
WHY Tell Your Story 1. Personal Liberation
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you - Maya Angelou
Wise sayings tell us that too many people die with their stories locked inside them and when an elder dies, a whole library burns down. Our lives are uncertain and whilst the sun rises daily we cannot take for granted how many days we will live to see it. To live with our story burning inside us is to live a half life - numerous health, emotional and behavioural problems arise from holding ourselves hostage. Releasing our story is a gift that can breathe life and freedom back into every aspect of our lives. As we step into the magical role of the story teller, we align ourselves with that essential witnessing part of ourselves, that has the power to untangle the knots in our web and weave a magic carpet from it.
2. Liberating Others
You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth and raging courage. - Alex Elle
As we liberate ourselves, we can open a doorway for others. There is much in our human existence that is shared - including the most basic of our human feelings and needs - and stories help bind us together at that common, unifying level. There will be something in your story that others can empathise with and that in turn can help liberate, uplift and inspire them.
3. Creating Magic
People do not buy goods and services, they buy relations, stories and magic. - Seth Godin
Stories have a magical power to transform both the teller and the listener, enabling us to reflect on life from a new vantage point. Magic gets us off the treadmill of daily existence and leads us into a space of possibility imbued with the power to alchemise, transform and renew our world. A story is an enchanting gift that can touch the longing for magic we all have within us.
4. Contributing to awareness
What will the world miss if you don't tell your story? - Donald Miller
Your story has a purpose, a big WHY that can contribute to the growth of awareness. Staying tuned to that WHY can motivate awesome action and amazing artistry. My father, John Burden, has bravely shared his story about living with a heart condition with the national press and the British Heart Foundation to help others with similar conditions. Your story can help the world learn and grow.
HOW To Tell Your Story
Speak from the Heart
Tell your story with your whole heart - Brene Brown
Telling your story requires risk and courage to share who we truly are with the world. The stakes are high but the rewards of a life lived fully from the heart are greater. When we speak, sing, paint, dance from the heart, we experience the joyful embodiment of our truth and those who resonate will connect with us heart to heart.
Support System for Open Heartedness It's important that we build support systems around open-hearted risk-taking - the more grounded and supported we feel, the higher we can fly. Three really simple ways to support ourselves are:
1. Breathe from your belly - it's a no-brainer but we forget to do it, especially in moments of high risk. Practice tuning into your breath before and after sleep by simply placing your hand and feeling the natural rise and fall of the deep belly breath. Then in stressful moments do the same - tune in and let yourself be supported by inspiration and released by exhalation.
2. Practice - whatever you want to do - write a book, paint, get fit - give yourself a safe space to practice and make it a habit. We don't do a Facebook Live when we are learning a song or going to the gym for the first time. It's a private, safe space where we have permission to learn, explore, make mistakes and fall over. Only supportive people are allowed in that space with you - which brings us onto...
3. Postive people - Every great Oscar speech includes "and I'd like to thank.." because no great star gets there on their own - leading lights of all industries have coaches, family and friends cheering them on. So even if it's just the cat to begin with, form an inner circle of loyal, unconditionally loving, positive people. These cheerleaders have got your back and will lovingly hold you accountable to your dreams, call out your demons and celebrate your wins.
WHEN & WHERE To Tell Your Story
Discernment helps us navigate our story
It is time that we steered by the stars, not by the lights of each passing ship. - Omar Bradley
We live in a world where for some people telling their story is literally life threatening - in many countries coming out or marrying the person you love can result in persecution, violence and death. Truths can be silenced and people can disappear when their stories challenge social taboos. Telling our story may risk being excluded from our social tribe and bring up very valid fears, so it's essential to discern when and where it is safe for us to share.
Discernment - following the prompts of our instincts, intelligence, and intuition - steers us away from social constriction towards freedom and safe harbours where our stories can be told and heard. There are many organisations who offer lifelines to members of the LGBTQ community fleeing persecution, women seeking refuge from oppressive relationships or addicts seeking change away from mates who are still getting high.
Discernment helps us find mediums to safely share and alchemise our story. Nicky Nicholls, whose story has been recently told with Elizabeth Sheppard Jones in the book Not a Proper Child, found a way to transform and heal a horrific life of child abuse and homelessness through painting. There's increasing awareness of the power of the arts to support those facing mental illness, life-changing health conditions, homelessness or addiction. Even when people are drifting beyond life in coma, the sound of their loved ones reading or singing to them can reach them. We can create magic in every precious moment of life.
Reaching for the stars and touching hearts ....
The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious, the desire to reach hearts is wise - Maya Angelou
To tell our story may involve the risk of going beyond our fears, limitations or societal norms and reaching for the stars. From there we can bring back magic to enrich and widen the world. By speaking from the heart, you will also reach hearts that are longing to hear you.
May your story be lived, sung and spoken fully from the heart this New Year. I look forward to hearing and singing with you!