Is This All There Is?
Last month during the better part of a weekend, I attended a Life Calling Workshop hosted by our church. Scott and Louise Walker from Life/Work Direction, a non-profit organization, created and led the workshop.
Although the workshop is faith based, everyone can benefit from the techniques that the Walkers use to help participants answer the question, "What should I do with my life? Is this all there is?"
We all ask those questions at one time or another, don't we? Often, we ask during the middle of our lives when we yearn for more meaning or when we face life-changing events (e.g., death of a spouse, loss of a job, retirement, etc.)
I know I've been asking these questions for the past few years as I grappled with my career change.
What fascinates me, however, is that the answer to the question, "What should I do with my life?" often is hidden within one's past, especially one's childhood. During the Life Calling Workshop, participants form small groups. Each participant tells a story about an event during which she felt extreme joy or peace; a time when she got lost in an activity or event.
With a facilitator guiding the group, members practice active listening and positive feedback. Listeners almost "see through" the storyteller into her true self, the self that is no longer hiding behind the masks life uses to help us fit in and feel accepted.
When the storyteller finishes sharing, each listener showers him with about a dozen first-person affirming statements. For example, Risks excite me. I was born to write. I crave being the center of attention. Singing invigorates me.
The feedback helps some participants confirm that they are on the right path. Some participants continue to excavate their souls in search of their heart's desire well beyond the first weekend. Almost all participants realize that the demands and events of life have built a wall around some portion of their peace, joy, excitement – their love of life.
When I see a storyteller shocked by an affirmation written by a listener, I know the whole activity is working. Often, the storyteller is not privy to that positive aspect of himself. Sometimes, one statement triggers numerous lost, joyful memories to float to the surface. For example, I forgot that I loved to teach as a teen. I really miss spending time with my family at the cabin. Someone thinks I'm smart.
The storytelling approach is a powerful method of discovering who you used to be, and how you can reintegrate a sense of personal fulfillment into your life…now.
Storytelling is a powerful method of self-discovery.
- Michelle Beckman
What Type of Family Life Do We Enable?
When a storyteller is surprised by positive comments about herself or can't remember joyful experiences from her childhood, I always find myself taking a deep breath and a long pause. I look at the family life that my husband and I enable.
Do we take enough time out for fun?
What will our children remember when they try to write their own life story?
Will our son remember that I had to pry the pencil from his thumb and index finger when he fell asleep drawing at midnight? Will our daughter remember the days she read stories to her family of American Girl dolls? Will they remember the feeling of acceptance that filled them as players on a team?
Our children are young. Right now, it seems like I will always remember the activities that our children enjoy.
But when I see adults desperately trying to remember what made them happy during their childhood, I realize that we cannot take our stories of fulfillment for granted.
We cannot take our stories of fulfillment for granted.
Your Heart's Desire
Life builds walls around our hearts' desires. Eventually, your child will be an adult asking herself, "What should I do with my life? Is this all there is?" The memories you record will be her power tool to demolish those walls; replenish her joy, peace, and fulfillment; as well as, rediscover her true self and love of life.
And if you are in a phase that has you asking, "Is this all there is?" consider writing your own life story. You just might be surprised by how what you remember about yourself. You can use these stories to design the rest of your fascinating life!
Be the one who noticed. Be the one who encouraged.
Be the one who recorded your child's (and your own) stories of fulfillment.
Want to learn more about saving your life story?
Check out my Life Story School!
This publication is based upon personal experience, research, and education. Although the author has made every reasonable attempt to achieve complete accuracy of the content in this article, the author and Sunday Dinner Stories assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or inaccurate information. For privacy reasons, some names may have been changed or omitted. The content is not intended to replace common sense, legal, medical, or other professional advice; it is meant to encourage, inspire, educate, and inform the reader. That means you should consult with your attorney, doctors, and other professionals if you have any concern about implementing our advice. But we hope you'll consider us your memoir professionals and will consult us for all your storytelling needs!
© 2020 Michelle Beckman, Sunday Dinner Stories, All rights reserved internationally.
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