Why we need to tell our stories
Here’s a confession: Since Bedtime Stories for the Living was released last month, I have–sometimes–checked my Amazon book reviews while driving.
I know this is not safe. I know this is illegal in some states. I know I’m putting my life and the lives of others at risk. I know my Driver’s Ed. teacher, who looked like Tom Selleck, would vehemently disapprove of my behavior. I know when my kids begin to drive I’m going to tell them to turn off their phone. Put on their seatbelt. Turn down the radio. Check their mirrors. And then tell them they’re not permitted to leave the driveway. When they ask why, I’ll explain there are careless drivers out there who check their Amazon book reviews while driving.
So why do it? Why do I engage in such risky behavior?
My kids have yet to read Bedtime Stories for the Living in its entirety.
Haley has made a few attempts but claims it’s really long and she’s super busy with Snapchat and Tik-Tok right now.
Chase wants to set the chapter, “Chase Learns the F-Word” to memory before he reads another chapter.
And Dylan is eight-years-old. He gets a pass for another year.
In fact, over winter break, when any of the kids announced, “I’m bored,” I returned with, “Read the book I wrote for you,” to which they responded, more or less, “I’m not that bored.”
Look, sharing our stories is not easy. It’s scary. Anytime we begin to reveal ourselves, the internal critic takes the wheel: What if they don’t listen? What if they yawn and open Snapchat when I’m being vulnerable? What if they don’t care?
But telling our stories releases ourselves from such stories. The sweet air of freedom. Like opening the door for a caged dove. Like sending a resignation email. Like a confession.
We may not be writers. We may not want to publish our book for the world to read. But we all have stories–some painful, some joyous–that deserve to be told, if not to others, then at least to ourselves in a journal or in a secret app on our phone with brutal truth and honest introspection.
Tell me a story about what you wanted to be when you grew up.
Tell me a story about letting go.
Tell me a story about a sound you miss.
Tell me a story about laughing until it hurt.
Tell me a story about a time you bit off more than you can chew.
Tell me a story about when you realized your parents were right.
We don’t tell our story for popularity or praise or Amazon reviews. Pumping our ego is selfish and reckless and something Tom Selleck would probably frown upon. I’m ashamed. I know better. I know we tell our stories to transform. To heal. To move on. To discover. To forgive. To entertain. To connect. To make peace. To show love. To bridge the past to the present. To better understand our own lives. To make a difference in somebody else’s life.
By writing about my degenerative brain disease, my insecurities as a man, my joy of being a father, my love of being a husband, I’ve learned to be more attentive to life. Like a good driver, with their phone turned off, with both hands on the steering wheel, focused on the unfurling road yet aware of the things passing by.
At the end of Bedtime Stories for the Living I listed some story prompts that helped me write the book. Here are some other prompts that might help you tell your story.
I want to welcome everyone who subscribed through the Book Funnel promotions. I hope my silly, dad brain brings you insight, comfort, and humor each Friday.
Also through Book Funnel, I’ve teamed up with some awesome authors who are giving away their eBooks for FREE! Please checkout the links below and help emerging authors get discovered.
Photo of the Week:
I found this picture while scrolling through Facebook. It’s a good visual reminder that “life…”, like that fine 1991 Tom Cochrane hit, “…is a highway” and rolls on and that it’s our responsibility to decide how to approach the future. With hope and optimism? Or with dread and pessimism? Any time is a good time to shift our mindset, but a new year is a nice starting line. A place to stop, catch our breath, check our rearview mirror, read our Amazon book reviews, shift our mindset, and drive anew into the future.
If you would like to share something with others (a photo, a poem, a song, etc.) that tosses some positive vibes into the world, please send your suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Don’t be like my kids. Read Bedtime Stories for the Living.
(According to the Amazon reviews, you won’t regret it!)
Joking aside, if you read BSFL I would love an Amazon review! Due to some Jeff Bezos concocted algorithm, more book reviews lead to greater exposure. And greater exposure equates to higher book sales and as I wrote in BSFL, “college for three ain’t free.”
Are you a reader? Looking for your next good book to read or listen to? Check out my new page “Jay’s Book Shelf” for some book recommendations.
Here’s what I’m currently reading: Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change by Maggie Smith
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Jay Armstrong is a writer, speaker, and a former award-winning high school English teacher. Despite being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, that impairs his movement, balance, eyesight, and speech–Jay presses on. He hopes to help you find joy, peace, and meaning in life. For Jay, a good day consists of 5 things:
4. Hearing his three children laugh
5. Hugging his wife
(Bonus points for a dinner with his parents or a beer with his friends)
Jay hasn’t had a bad day in quite a long time.
You can also visit Jay at jayarmstrongwrites.com