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When I Googled “tell your story,” I got 166 million search results.  It seems the world is hungry for stories…your story.  Ears are everywhere, waiting to hear, it seems.

Of course there are all the ones who want to teach you how to tell your story and others who want to tell you why you should, especially if you are a business.  And there are the other ones as well.

Every kind of organization – for-profit and not, religious and not, beneficial and (perhaps) not — are listed in the search.

  • There are support groups who collect stories to show other people with similar issues and problems that they are not alone. Often they are working on using the anecdotes they collect to help you and fellow sufferers heal.
  • There are folks who collect stories as part of an effort to help preserve a culture or to build a consensual sense of history.
  • And then, of course, there are the folks who basically seem to be bent on listening their way into your wallet.

Telling your story is generally agreed to be a good thing.


Sometimes telling your story helps to ground you and helps to start your healing.  This YouTube video by spoken-word poet Jon Jorgenson is called “Tell Your Story.”  In it, Jorgenson tells what happened when he opened up before a group of interested, well-intentioned Christians.


Sometimes telling your story becomes an exploration and an uncovering of a passion that sustains you and connects you to the world.

In this 2012 TEDx talk given at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, “Maka Maoli:  Storytelling On a Screen Beyond Stereotypes,” independent filmmaker and hula dancer Lisette Flanary tells how she began creating her award-winning documentary films that celebrate a modern renaissance of the hula and Hawaiian culture.  It helped her to re-connect with her roots.


Sometimes you can use your stories and ideas to make something new that resonates with the world.  In this YouTube video, filmmaker Zach King recounts how he began his YouTube channel FinalCutKing after his application to film school was rejected.

He posted video editing tutorials on the thing and more than 400,000 subscribers tuned in to his channel.  Even after he was accepted into film school, King continued playing and exploring his video-making habits.

In 2013 King launched a Vine account that attracted an audience of nearly a million fans in a remarkably short time.

King points out that he did all this with just a computer and a digital camera, assorted everyday props (including pets and stray people) as well as a cadre of computer geek collaborator-friends.

While he had to give up his fantasy of directing a major blockbuster and collaborating with Steven Spielberg, he was also able to bypass the estimated twelve-plus years of industrial dues-paying and the incessant fundraising that’s an inevitable part of producing “real” films.

In this YouTube video of a TEDxPortland talk, The Storyteller In All of Us, he tells his tale.

He does look like he’s having a good time….


My own favorite share-a-story place is The Moth, an organization whose mission is “to promote the art and craft of storytelling and to honor and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience.”

Each Moth show is built around a theme, some aspect of the human experience.  Every Moth storyteller tells a true story live, in front of standing-room-only crowds with no notes.

Since its inception in 1997, the group has become international.  In more than 25 cities around the world, The Moth currently produces more than 500 live shows each year.  Through their Education and Community outreach programs they conduct workshops to teach high school kids and adults how to tell their stories.

Their podcast is downloaded over 30 million times a year and each week the Moth Radio Hour is heard on 400 radio stations worldwide.  This radio show won the Peabody Award which recognizes when the telling of “stories that matter” is done well in electronic media.

The Moth’s first book, THE MOTH:  50 True Stories was a New York Times bestseller in 2013.  A new book’s in the works now.


What if you’re not really ready to tell your own story?  What if it disturbs your sense of privacy?

Well, there’s always listening to the stories all of these other people are telling theirs.  That’s a lot of fun too and, as a bonus, you might even learn something….

Here’s a poem:


Come, come, come….

Come tell me your story.


I promise you:  I WILL listen.


I will listen for

the heartsong

that beats through

every halting word.


I will listen through

the heated flames of anger,

the coldest wind of bitterest gall,

the piquant and the sour words

falling from your mouth,

the salt of an alkali desert

pouring from your lips.


I will listen for the sweetness,

the soft notes of redemption

from the shining songbird that settles

in that gnarly old tree

growing in the wasteland of you.


I will listen until

you can hear your own story,

until you know you will endure,




Your story is very much

like my own, you know.


Thank you for sharing

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Tell Your Story stencil by Acid Midget via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

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Another way to expand your own repertoire of thought patternings is to talk it over with a friend.  Be curious.  Empathize.  Check out another person’s beliefs and viewpoints to see what’s under there.  Perhaps there will be new information and perspectives that make more sense to you than the thinks you usually think.

If nothing else, you will at least get a good conversation going with someone and, perhaps, make some sort of connection between you.

One important skill is learning how to sit in silence and learning how to be with someone who is hurting.  Even though it feels awful when you’re going through it, stepping into another person’s hard and just being a witness can be the greatest gift you can offer in situations when there’s nothing that your Inner Fixer can do.

This video is a story recorded at a Moth Community Showcase on September 20, 2016 at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City.  The theme for the night was Global Stories of Women and Girls.  Sisonke Msimang is a writer and activist who has been published in the New York Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, and a range of other international publications.  She is the Program Director at the Centre for Stories in Perth, Australia.

The thing about this way of being a friend is that it does take time, often a lot of time.  In order to walk in someone else’s world, you need to be available to do it.

Maui Sunrise - Kahului Airport

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  a tendency to go beyond the superficial social niceties to true connection.  [Since there are few people who are willing to invest the enormous amount of effort, time and energy that’s needed to develop real intimacy, this tends to limit your inner circle to a few brave souls.  This is fine.  It is probably all you can handle anyhow.  Finding even one such friend is a treasure many people apparently never find.]

This poem is one I sent to a woman I greatly admired.  When we first met she was going through a confusing time, one of those periods of growth that takes you over in the aftermath of a traumatic experience.  It was causing her extreme distress and anguish.

The woman felt her world was falling apart and she was calling for help in every way she knew how.  The way she moved pushed away the help she wanted, and I was moved by her plight.

I sent her this poem and she was grateful that somebody had heard her cries for help.  We became fast  friends over time, hugging each other warm through a very bad time for her.  All I offered her were my ears and my smiles and my hugs.  I sat with her and let her find her own footing.  And she added so much joy and learning to my life I still smile when I see her face in my memory.

We were friends for only a few years before her unexpected death.  She had already lived a long and varied life and I like to think that together we explored and tinkered and made some very good things.


I cannot do it.

I just can’t.

How can I share my sadness for you

When your fierce self-sorrow

Drowns out my timid compassion

In a woe-is-me mantra bigger than the sky?


I am sorry.

Yes, I am.

But I’m not strong enough

To lose myself again, sinking ‘neath

The painful tide of tears

Flowing from your sad eyes.


Joy, I wish you.

I wish you peace.

May you be free from all of this suffering.

But, what are my wishes – paltry things –

(Or the wishes of all your friends)

Against the tsunami of your pain?


I have been there.

Yes, I’ve done that.

Drowned the nascent sun rising in my eyes,

Clutched my pain like a worn teddy bear,

Rocking myself to numbness at the bottom

Of that lake of tears.


Time will pass.

Distance happens.

You’ll still hurt, but the pain will ease.

The sun will rise again in your eyes.

Maybe then your ears will open.

Maybe then the wishes will come real.

by Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  Connections by Matthew Montgomery via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]

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