Gangsters, Healers and Draft Dodgers

One woman's sweet father threw three gangsters out of his cottage back in the 1950s, turning down a life of crime.

A daughter discovers that mother provided more than love to her during her frequent illnesses as a child—Mom was a therapeutic touch healer in the 1950s.

A gentle and kind man confesses that he ran away from home and became a minister to beat the Viet Nam draft in protest to his father's WWII service.

Ordinary people with extraordinary stories. And we're all extraordinary.

Contrary to popular belief, preserving our stories never gets old, whether shared verbally or preserved in writing. Just look at stand-up comedy, we love to hear about the unique experiences of others, or how we can relate so closely with everyday events through the lens of some else's experience and perspective.

We tell stories every day. A child talks about her cool teacher at school who protected her from a bully, a woman tells her friends she met the love of her life, a great-grandparent talks about the many new inventions he's seen in his lifetime.

We become better known to ourselves and others through everyday storytelling. As the years roll on and we repeat our experiences to others we get a clearer picture of who we are today. I think seniors tend to be more comfortable with themselves because of this healthy type of oral, self-reflection. We become more of who we always wanted to be with age—those values that we hold dear begin to really shine with the wisdom that the years give us.

We all value relationships, to be fully known and loved. This part of our nature is the most vulnerable task of being human even with all our foibles and strengths of character. But it's precisely this vulnerable sharing that draws others near. When we tell a story of overcoming a fear or share a tender moment from an average day, that kernel of truth, that moral-of-the-story makes us real to each other and validates our worth.

Telling your stories is also infectious—ever heard someone try to "best" your tale? Suddenly everyone at the party is storytelling, feeling good about connecting in community and feeling a deep sense of belonging. Then you go home and tell your spouse what a great time you had at the party, and the storytelling goes on.

Take a moment and write down three things that made you smile today as you reflect on the memories that arose from reading this article. Enjoy!