If someone told us four years ago when we submitted our manuscript on January 15th, how our miracle journey would unfold, we would have never believed them! We thought that by sharing our stories we were 'doing what we were supposed to do' - we never imagined we would be blessed to hear so many wise and wonderful stories in return. What began as a simple conversation in a coffee shop in our home town took on new meaning over the years. As we reflect on what we have learned, we have come to identify 7 insights that unwittingly guided us on our miracle journey; helping us to bring out the best in each other, giving us the tools to live up to each other's high expectations and to get the job done. Throughout this coming year, we'd like to share what we discovered. This month, Katie kicks it off with the realization that Everyone Has a Story.
We wish all of you a Happy and Healthy 2014 and an opportunity to share your own story...you never know where it will take you.
Joan, Katie and Meb
There was an iconic movie more than twenty years ago, City Slickers, about coming of (middle) age. In one scene, Mitch and Ed commiserate with their friend Phil whose life has derailed, by reminding him of a game they played as kids. Whenever the ball would go over the fence, they would yell, "Do Over!" Phil's life was a do over, they told him. January gives me that same feeling - I feel like the slate is wiped clean and "it's a do over." Rather than focusing on the pressure of making - and keeping - Resolutions, I see the Do Over as an opportunity to build on something good, maybe by taking a few steps back first, and approaching from a different vantage point. Beginning anew.
Joan creates an intriguing visual in The Miracle Chase when she calls the three of us "the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker" in a boat on a calm sea, or at least I read it as calm at the time. With Joan's motto that "You can sleep when you are dead", Meb's "Work like everything depends on you, pray like everything depends on God" and my "Go Big or Go Home" let's just say the sea was not always calm. So, when the three of us took the opportunity to reflect back on the miracle chase journey, we asked ourselves how it is we kept faith in our goals and in each other for ten years. Turns out the characteristics we developed as Miracle Chasers are also the hallmarks of good friendships and collaborations of all kinds.
We all have stories that define us. By sharing my own story, one I had long kept quiet,I understood something Leif Enger wrote in Peace Like a River, "People fear miracles because they fear being changed, though ignoring them will change you also." I believe this is true of all kinds of stories, not just the miracle variety.
A few years ago, still new to NYC, my friend Lee and I went to lunch with Andy, a woman I had recently met in our building gym. (Lee and I had met in a corporate apartment laundry room the year before, which must establish some new pattern, now that the children are grown, of where I meet my friends!) No sooner had we sat down to lunch than Lee, soul sister that she is, announced, "Katie wrote a book about miracles and you should hear her story...Katie, tell her your story..." We were in the final stages of the manuscript, deadline looming, so the book had not yet been published and I was not yet used to telling my story outside of a small circle of friends and family. This seemed like a relatively safe opportunity. After hearing my story, Andy began to tell us about the strange happenings leading immediately up to and after the death of her father. When she finished, she looked up and said, "Wow, I don't think I've ever told that story before...outside of the family, anyway."
"You give people permission." Andy later told me. As it turns out, miracle stories, in particular, give people permission to open up about their own extraordinary experiences, magical moments, or coincidences that defy logic. Andy became a friend, at first reluctant that she, a high-powered, successful business woman, should admit to believing in such stories, much less telling them. "What would people think?" She wondered.
Brenee Brown calls stories, "data with a soul." She isn't referring to miracle stories, per se, but she recognizes that we connect with each other through story. It takes courage to reveal something about ourselves because it leaves us vulnerable. The "what will people think?" is a common lament. Yet, without this connection, we stay superficial and so do our relationships. Being only "Facebook Friends" comes to mind - controlling image and snippets from our lives. There is no depth, no "soul" in staying on the surface.
Sharing our "story" with someone breaks down barriers and builds trust. Listening in turn, empathic listening, to someone else's story develops compassion. The experience of feeling understood allows us to see our own stories differently and on a deeper level. We are enriched in the process. Practicing the art of sharing pieces of ourselves has an added benefit because compassion becomes easier the more we share common experiences. It reinforces the knowledge that everyone, indeed, does have a story, even though we may never know it. As C.K. Chesterton said, "We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea and we owe each other a terrible loyalty." This is closer to the truth of the boat the three of us traveled in, the one Joan envisioned.
It is no accident that Telling Stories is Chapter One of The Miracle Chase. It is how the three of us first connected. What is unexpected is what happened next, how opening up to each other began to create deeper meaning, peeling back layers we didn't know existed around our own stories. Here we are years after the telling, still connecting the dots. (Katie)
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