This past July, I made the move back home after living abroad in Rome for two years. I was giving up my apartment, my routine, solid friendships and daily prosciutto from my butcher. (If I go into a quiet room and close my eyes, I can channel the taste, if only briefly). The transition was a challenge made easier by morning chats on the porch with Mom and Nanna and painting with my sisters. Sunset cocktails with Dad weren’t bad for unwinding, either. But, I’ll tell ya, the least enjoyable part of the return home has been answering the same exact questions, without fail, in every public situation I have been in: Do you miss Rome? What’s it like there? Are you planning to go back? Not to pry, but what on earth are you going to do now?
The consistent resurfacing of this last question invited me to experiment a little, to try out an array of answers for size. I tried the very vague, “I’m writing,” which seemed to leave faces blank and curious. I tried the seemingly more sophisticated, “I’m working remotely, writing for a small book publishing company,” which got the impressed, yet still puzzled, slow nod. I gave the painfully vague, “I work for a company that sells joy, transformation, and significance,” (and I’m not sorry to say I enjoyed this one the most. Shame on them for prying). But the most rewarding exchange that I’ve discovered in the recent weeks goes a little like this: “I write books,” which always inspires the question, “What kind of books?” I explain further that, “I write books with people that have decided it’s time to share their story.”
“Oh,” they say, “like ghostwriting?” No. After explaining to them all the ways that our process is, not in fact, ghostwriting, many have said, “Well, you’ll have to write my book someday.” When there has been time, I ask them, what is their story?
If you asked me that question one year ago, I guarantee I would do the same thing that nearly everyone so far has done to respond to that simple question: they start to list the experiences, adventures, hardships, successes that separate them, make them “book worthy,” interesting. They’ll tell me about the war they fought, their debilitating divorce, the terminal illness that they trudged through and overcame.
Yes, these are all chapters, but our stories are trapped inside and between them, the connective tissue around each experience, the network of moments around each milestone which brought them to agree on new adventures, encounter new acquaintances, look at it all with a new lens, find a new focus. It’s the before and the after what of they think makes them unique and every grain in between. When the whole picture starts to evolve, like a face pushing through a pin art mold, the urgency to tell the story is palpable. It’s gotta get out. It can’t stay locked in it’s safe, fenced-in pin farm one more second.
One of our current clients, Christine Mason McCaull, told us recently why she’s telling her story and sharing her beliefs. “The most interesting place to go is the place that is unsafe and to find an environment where you can talk about it.”
So here we are, talking about it.
Our stories can be instrumental in changing beliefs, worldviews, lives, or even just allowing someone to see that change is possible. We are doing one another a great disservice to hold these stories in the vault. We’ve each found our own way to live on this planet, and we’d be so honored to hear about yours.