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Telling Our Story

Yesterday I had the wonderful privilege of a conversation with Lee Rael as part of his Seedpod podcasts. Recently I have become aware of the power of storytelling, and how we seem to be losing this art form. Life seems to be just too busy, too fast to take the time to listen.

Lee and I talked for three hours – literally non-stop. And we could have talked for another three. His serene presence, the kindness with which he held the space, the deep listening and knowing that I felt validated my story. But more than that, it made me verbalise thoughts that I felt safe to express and comfortable sharing.

The intimacy of the time together intrigued me. The warmth, connectedness, and security. The presence. The sense of identity. I walked away feeling as exhausted as I felt exhilarated.

We are our stories. When no one listens to us, our stories will fall deeper and deeper into the dark corners of our Minds. They will become tangled and twisted, even confused when not given the order of articulation. The sense-making of verbal expression gives them shape and form, makes us listen to them again, think about them, and reshape them, creating a narrative that ultimately becomes our Story. The expression and manifestation and breathing into the world who we really are.

Our silent contemplation and self-observation need expression. We need to exhale words that give value to our Being-in-the-world. We need to be heard, we need to be held. We need to be validated and expressed.

The art of listening. Of truly hearing, deep knowing, is what connects our Souls, weaving the tapestry of our wounded Selves magically into the storyline of our existence. In our narrating, our stories we narrate our sense-making of our own fears and joys and hurt. We create ourselves anew every time we are given the honour of telling our story, given the opportunity to rephrase and rethink.

Every person is and has a story. The person living with dementia has a story – if we don’t take time to listen, that story will slowly fade away, become silent, trapped. It does not need to make sense to the listener, as long as it is held in grace the expression is enough. This expression gives shape to thoughts – a shape that might only make sense to the storyteller. But it is in and through our listening, our presence, holding the space, that we will truly honour the sacredness of their Spirit and listen to them into the now, validating their personhood.

Slow down. Sit down. Calm down. Listen.

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