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The Morning After

women

Last Saturday night was my first experience on stage at the Virginia Theater in Champaign with the That’s What She Said Show. It was a night to remember. Much preparation and bonding, availability and vulnerability, sharing fears and dreams culminating with a Show we could all be proud to be a part of.

It was a 2 1/2 month immersion into stories, or as someone last night said, “An incubator for fast female friendships.” Fast female friendships between five decades of women, ranging in age from 29 to 64.

On the morning after, I was thinking about the process we went through for That’s What She Said Show #4. Seven Women-Seven Stories-Seven Minutes was the original idea for the Show, as I understand it. Kerry believes that every woman’s story can be a window or a mirror to the women who hear it. What a beautiful mental picture that is. Giving women a glimpse of understanding. Letting another woman know you have “been there,” too. Helping others see that it is possible to make it through tough stuff. Showing strength that is welcome and helpful.

While the Seven Minutes got stretched a bit, the Seven Women with Seven Stories came together in a way that went beyond entertainment. As each of us discovered the story we were ready to share (thank you, Kerry!) and then honed them to an acceptable length (thank you Jenette!), a journey was taken together. Domestic abuse, middle age, addiction, mom vs career, aging on purpose, difficult childhood diagnosis, struggle to be content….topics were true and pertinent.
Digging a little deeper, thinking in a new way (people are going to listen to this!), deciding what to wear, our conversations were pretty real from the beginning and solidified as we went along.

What Kerry Rossow has created with SheSaidProject.com is a little bit hard to explain from back stage. The Show is understandable—Women telling their stories. We have photos and videos of this show and of past shows.

The morning after

stories

But how Kerry was able to take 9 women (7 speakers, Kerry and Jenette, the director) who don’t know each from meeting each other in the privacy of Kerry’s living room to standing together on a stage, being deep and intimate and real in front of a whole lot of other women (who mostly they don’t know) is something of a mystery.

Truly, it was a privilege to share the stage…and the process…with this group of women.

 

 

 

 

A Good Story

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I love a good story. I’m always a little bit in trouble in the fall when all the new tv shows come out.

I like drama. And action. So when “Madam Secretary” and “Blue Bloods” and “Chicago Fire” come on, I want to watch them. Now, there are few new ones and they can draw me in, too.  Jury trials, FBI intrigue, forensics.  I try to limit my time in front of the tv, but with such good stories, I have to work to ration myself.

I’m a reader, too. And I like reading stories. Historical fiction, good novels (new and old), and non-fiction when it is written like a good story. A good book with a good story is a good way to spend a day.

I like to tell stories, too.  And I have a lot of them!  With five kids (all grown), 17 moves, a long marriage, jobs and churches and in-laws and siblings and travels, there is a lot of story material.

Stories have the potential to change lives.

That’s why the abbreviated version of my personal mission statement is to “tell my stories.”14450020_495901827273255_620911801150940418_n

There is a brilliant stage show in our town called the “That’s What She Said.” This is the fourth year it has been produced and, this year, I get to be one of the speakers! I’m honored and thoroughly psyched! It’s been a lot of work to get one of my stories (a core one, I believe) down to 7 minutes and memorized and stage ready. Thankfully, I’ve had tons of encouragement from the other lady speakers, and I appreciate having help to hone and edit from the founder/producer of That’s What She Said and the director of this year’s show.

I’ve attended the show once before and was struck by hearing other women’s stories. This year, seeing the process from the inside-out, I am struck again by the heart and soul of the women who are involved in this.  We all have stories and these women see that taking the time to listen to one another’s stories is valuable beyond measure.

The phrase that connects with me at a deep level is “each woman’s story can be a window or a mirror to another women who hears it.”

How beautiful is that?

I wonder this afternoon how much it would change our perspective if we listened and told our own stories to each other instead of taking so much time forming opinions about people in the news who, undoubtedly, we have very little accurate information.

After the show this Saturday, when I am not spending my extra time memorizing my own stage-worthy story, I am going to intentionally seek out LISTENING to other women’s stories, even more than I already tend to do.

People love stories (just look at the evolution and success of Humans of New York). Your story can be a window for another woman to understand something she has not experienced. Or it might be a mirror, to give hope and connection to someone who thinks they are the only one who has a struggle you actually can relate to.

We are not going to be the answer to each other’s problems.
But we can surely come alongside and support and understand one another to give each other courage and compassion as we all face forward into the future by telling each other our stories.

 

 

 

 

photo credit: lanuiop over coffee via photopin (license)