How Has Story Impacted You?

 

Story empowers. Changes. Matters. Affects.

Whether we read a story book or hear a friend’s tale or see a movie, we experience it as if we live it. Our brain lights up in the same areas as if we had been the character ourselves. Fascinating! The result: we grow and change and spark others on to the same as we share our own (or ones that have become our own) stories.

Birth stories teach us about the miracle of life and birth. Who can help but shed a tear at the moment the mother sees her newborn’s face in Call the Midwife on Netflix? These stories give us the strength to push through our own birth adventure or admire those women who have done so.

Coming-of-age stories show us how difficult it is to grow up and discover who we are created to be but also allow us to experience the joy of it. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee teaches me that surface differences only hide our similarities and that judgment hurts others.

Love stories give us hope that there is someone for us, someone who understands us and accepts us for who we are. My favorite love story shows that no matter what I’ve done, there is someone who knows me better than I know myself and who still loves me. That love story is found in the New Testament.

Adventures allow a safer way to feel the thrill of events for those of us who might not put skydiving or war or swimming with dolphins on our bucket list but secretly would like to try (or know about) certain thrills. I loved experiencing what life is like in North Korea by reading The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Happy to not have to experience what the protagonist did while discovering the pain and reward of an ultimate sacrifice.

Mysteries, crime, science fiction, historical and more have their own flavors, and since we all are different, provide us with stories that appeal to our own tastes. One example I just read is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, a story set in WWII about the tragedy of war but also a story of how kindness can prevail even in awful circumstances.

Even contemporary fiction has a wide range to give us a glimpse into different cultures than we are in. Socioeconomic, gender, race, and religion differences–to name a few–blur in the pages of story. Right now, I’m reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. The protagonist is a self-educated French concierge who is befriended (and maybe more than that) by a wealthy Japanese man. Here I’m learning to embrace who I am and not adhere to who society thinks I should be.

Family stories told around the dinner table or at family gatherings tell us how those who have gone before us are still with us to teach us. My great grandmother immigrated with a friend from Finland at age sixteen in 1897, not knowing another soul and never seeing her family again, because she wanted to go to America where she would lie under a “raisin tree to eat raisins whenever she wanted.” Her name was Sunna and her story taught me to follow my dreams.

How have the stories you’ve read, heard, and seen impacted who you are today? I’d love to hear how.

 

 

 

What Gift?

 

rosebouquetcloseup

Five hundred words?

Makes me hum that old song, “Five Hundred Miles,” when I read my first line, which in the song is a long way to go. But five hundred words in a blog post is not many.

As long as you have something to say.

I don’t like to buy gifts out of obligation. Just because it’s someone’s birthday or a shower for a friend’s daughter or yet another anniversary. I feel the gift needs to be useful to the receiver.

Otherwise, it’s a waste of time for both the giver and recipient. And I guess I have been feeling a similar duty about my blogging or rather lack of blogging. Like an overdue letter to a friend.

But most fiction writers struggle to come up with things to say in what is a nonfiction format. For a fiction writer to write primarily nonfiction feels contradictory or at least inconsistent with what they do.

Writing is a gift, both for the one writing as they explore what they are passionate about and for the reader who makes her own discoveries through those words.

I want my gift to have value for my reader. Like the stories I write. A character like the reader who wants something but runs into difficulties in attaining it. And sometimes finding what they want isn’t what they get. Or need.

I want my words–five hundred or even less-than-three-hundred, like today– to be useful, beneficial, encouraging. I want my letter, my gift, to you to make you glad you went to the mailbox.

Why do you read a blog?

 

 

“Do You (Still) Love Him?”

saltandpepper2 

Love and marriage go together in our culture like salt and pepper or shampoo and conditioner. So what happens when the love disappears? Often that means the couple lets the marriage go. But does that make good sense?

If you ran out of conditioner, would you refuse to shampoo your hair? If you ran out of salt, wouldn’t you still add pepper to make your soup taste better?

rosemarygarlicporkchops

rosemary garlic pork chops or burgers?

It might take ten years for the loving feeling to change. Or two. Suddenly (or gradually) the wife sees only his shortcomings. Or he finds himself focusing on how she’s changed in ways he didn’t imagine.

She realizes they don’t have much in common other than their house and children. For entertainment, he likes to watch or play sports, and she reads or goes to the movies. Even his preference for plain meat and potatoes opposes her desire to cook gourmet meals. Opposites.

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me or us?
Without the softening of love, one spouse simply irritates the other.

“Love covers a multitude of sins” is true in marriage. Love filters our spouses’ many imperfections.

Can a marriage survive if the love is gone? Can a couple get the love back so they can be happy in their marriage and as individuals?

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fighting and starving equals love?
In the play Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye asks his wife of many years, “Golde, do you love me?” Golde sings back (it’s a musical), “Do I what?” She refuses to answer him, replying he’s stressed out with all the turmoil in their family and town.

Tevye asks her again. Golde reminds him she’s washed his clothes, cooked his meals, helped in the family business, and given him children for all the years they’ve been together. She doesn’t think it’s necessary to talk about something like love in that light.

He asks again. She replies, “I’m your wife.” Then she thinks aloud about how they lived, fought, starved, and made love together, ending with “if that’s not love, what is?”

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feel or act?
Although Fiddler on the Roof was set in the early 1900s and our ideas about love and marriage have changed, their values are still relevant today.

Tevye talks about love as a feeling; Golde refers to love as action. They know marriage is a mixture of good feelings and the right actions.

Because love is both.

Sometimes we act loving even when we don’t feel like it only because we chose the other person. So we do the right thing regardless of what we really want to do.

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surf’s up!
Feelings are like the tide. High tide and low tide, but as long as the moon (our action) is in the sky, low tide gives way to high again. So we can ride the emotions when they are strong, and hasten them back when they are low.

Because even though they are just feelings, like Tevye and Golde tell us “it doesn’t change a thing, but after twenty-five years, it’s nice to know.”