The Power of Telling Our Stories

By Lisa Browning

If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. ~ Lucille Ball

Yes, this is true. Busy people, generally, know how to multi-task. We know how to prioritize and, in my case anyway, spreadsheets (or some similar organizational tool) are our best friend!

As a busy person, I try not to leave things until the last minute (although I find, perhaps to my detriment, that I function best under stress), but sometimes it happens.

Writing this article was one of those times. In the minutes before I began to write (on this, the day of my deadline), I took a few minutes in silence, to gather my thoughts … or, more accurately, to open the conduit through which the words that need to be written are often presented to me.

I am passionate about the power of telling our stories, and I have lived that passion through my business, One Thousand Trees, for the past six years. In October 2010, I published the first issue of an online monthly magazine (also called One Thousand Trees). Little did I know that this simple gesture of giving back would open the floodgates of self-expression, for me and for so many others.

Surrounding my subdivision is a trail through the woods, and I walk my dog on this trail every morning and evening. It is during those walks that most of my ideas come to me. And so it was, on one of these walks about five years ago, that I was thinking about the amazing articles that had been submitted for my magazine during its first year of publication. “Hmmm,” I thought, “maybe I should put a book together.” And so, the first anthology of women’s empowerment stories (Sharing: our stories, our selves, our success) was born. In that anthology, 24 women from across Canada, the United States and overseas told their personal stories of hope, courage, and triumph over adversity. I was amazed at the reaction, from both the writers and the readers of those stories.

I’ve come to realize that our experiences, our stories, are a map for expansion and growth.
By sharing our journey we can provide insights, offering hope and healing for others along the way.
Franziska Boon – Melbourne, Australia

A male friend, after reading a couple of the stories in that volume, suggested that I do a men’s volume. “Really?” I asked him.

“Well,” he replied, “the stories might have a different flavour than the women’s, but I think there’s a need for this.”

I had never thought of doing a men’s book, but was open to the possibility. “Are you going to write for me?” I asked my friend, telling myself that his answer would determine if I’d go ahead or not.

His answer was yes, and the first men’s volume was published in 2014.

Publishing these anthologies was an amazing experience. Among many other things, I learned about what I believe to be the fundamental difference between men and women today. The majority of the women who wrote for me indicated that the gift for them was the platform to tell their stories. The men, on the other hand, were grateful for the opportunity to be vulnerable.

I am very grateful for your book because it has offered men a place to share their personal stories
with the greater community. This is a rare offer and one that I hope continues to grow around the globe
so that more and more people can see that men are heart centred beings too and can be vulnerable.
This is a new story about men.
Grant Waldman – Duncan, British Columbia

After the first volume of Sharing was published, I started hosting Sharing Evenings, in which authors from the Sharing anthologies read excerpts from their stories, and answered questions from the audience.

A very powerful illustration of just how important, and empowering, that kind of sharing is happened during one of these evenings. Just before the evening was about to start, a man quietly slipped into the room, and sat by himself in the back row. Eyes darting back and forth, he made no eye contact with anyone. From his slightly dishevelled appearance, and obviousdiscomfort, I sensed immediately that this was a man who had experienced a difficult life.

Throughout the readings from the first two authors, he watched and listened intently. When the second author finished, he spoke. He talked of seeing people gunned down, and other atrocities he had witnessed, yet with an eloquence that I have rarely witnessed. “After listening to your stories,” he said, “I feel hope, for the first time in my life.”

Tears filled my eyes, as they did many others in the room. The power and the positive, uplifting energy in that room was palpable.

We never know how sharing our stories can connect us with another, and bring light to darkness, and hope where there was only hopelessness.

In 2013, I published the first children’s book, after being approached by a local author with a personal story about his pet. Part of that process involved working with a 10-year-old boy, Noah, who was asked to retell the original, “grown up” story for an audience of his peers. I was delighted with the result, and amazed at the fact that I had to do little, if any, editing. But more important to me was the effect this experience had on Noah.

Being involved in the Angel Project has forever changed my son Noah’s life. It has helped to raise his self-esteem and confidence, and given him an opportunity to feel proud of himself for what he has accomplished. Noah’s grades have also steadily increased since the Angel Project. He also seems more outgoing and shows terrific leadership skills in initiating conversations and making new friends.
Michelle Nogueira re Noah Nogueira – Author, Angel Has Her Wings

I continue to publish my monthly magazine, the annual Sharing anthologies, and whatever children’s and other books I am asked to do, because I know, and have seen first-hand, how important it is to give others a vehicle through which they can be heard.

Lisa Browning is the creator of One Thousand Trees, the website and the magazine, and the sole proprietor of words along the path, offering writing, editing, and desktop publishing/pre-press services. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1988, and subsequently worked as an editor for over fifteen years. In recent years, she rediscovered her passion for writing, and has had essays and articles published in a variety of online and print magazines. No matter what she does, Lisa is inspired to make a difference in this world, and to help others realize their passion. For more information, visit her website.

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