Pursuing Life's Daring Adventure

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Life in Story: Story in Life

"I would like it very much if you thought of me as a mouse telling you a story, this story, with the whole of my heart, whispering it in your ear in order to save myself from the darkness, and to save you from the darkness, too. [For]'Stories are light.'"
-Despereaux the mouse, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

I love to write. Writing is me. But the deeper part of my love of writing and reading is my passion for STORY. Like an emerging picture in a connect-the-dots sheet, through story we connect our daily realities to a bigger meaning. Story brings illumination to the daily grind. A well-told story lends staggering power and beauty to ordinary life. Story transforms.

Here, in December, I like to connect the dots of the past year--to see what story emerges from the days piled up in 2010. My story. Do you do the same?

In 2009, a brilliant woman named Gwen Bell created an online community of year reflections. This year, she has teamed up with other women to create Reverb10, or a look and consider the reverberations of the past year as we turn ahead to the next. It's a powerful exercise in intentionality, and a time to reflect on the STORY of our lives.

One look at the Reverb10 site will show that the concept is to write, journal, or blog each day on the day's individual prompts. But since I am a once a week blogger, I will write the week's previous prompts in one day per week ... so here it goes:

My Reverberations of 2010:

December 1: One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why: 
Alive. I choose the word Alive. This year, life has been rich, and through all of the varying experiences, tough or enjoyable, I have tried to live out a conscious choice to be fully present, fully engaged, and fully embracing where God has brought my life. This year has been the best of my life. I am grateful for the journey.

December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
Honestly, my life involves little more than things that contribute to my writing. Besides the actual time I spend writing (2 -5 hours per day), I believe that all the experiences we have in our lives build into the stories we have to tell. Whether it is the conversation over coffee I have in the school cafeteria with another mom at drop-off or the grocery store clerk who in anger throws my bread to the floor, the experiences of daily life make up the richness of my life which I tap for all of my writing.

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year.
I felt most alive this year when standing on a peak in the Alps with my family. The sun shone brightly through the puffed clouds skipping across a blue sky seemingly just above our reach. And the greens in the Alps--they were so vibrant it seemed no grass and forest could be more lovely than the carpet spread over the mountains below us. Hiking with my family--this is when I feel most alive. 

On top of the world in the Austrian Alps

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?
Traveling naturally creates a sense of wonder for me. I continuously marvel at the differences and yet the similarities between cultures and countries so near yet so far. With our unique situation of living in Prague, Czech Republic, we were able to travel through and absorb places like Montenegro, Hungary, coastal and mountainous Tuscany--16 countries in all in the past year. A tremendous gift. I loved it all.

Kotor, Montenegro across Kotor Bay

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
Letting go of pleasing people is, has been, and will probably always be my most difficult problem to overcome on a daily basis. But this year, I have learned deep lessons and made strides, I think, in letting go of destructive relationships--ones where others are concerned only with their gains from the people in their lives. Life is too short to be dominated upon by people who are never pleased with others, and make that known loudly. There are too many people to love, and be loved by, to spend precious hours and days on whether or not they are happy.

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made?
A snowman! We have over two feet of snow on the ground in Prague right now, and last night, mostly by the incredible work of my boys, we put together a six-foot-tall snowman just outside the kitchen window. I love it!

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010?
This past Spring, friends urged me to join their tennis group, to play tennis once a week at the local clay courts. I hadn't played in ten years or so, because of the kiddie years. But now that I'm playing with this fabulous group of ladies, I am not only loving the competitive doubles exercise, but also the lavish community we have together.

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. 
Different. Gosh, I do know that I am different. We all are different. For me, it's evident at first glance, in person, because of my height (pushing six feet) ... but I would like to believe that the beauty in my person-hood comes from my love of embracing others for our differences, and enjoying the similarities we share. I feel most in my element when listening to the stories of others' lives, how they became who they are, and how they plan to overcome obstacles moving toward their goals in the future.  

Thank you to the great folks at Reverb10 for helping us revisit the past year, to learn from and look ahead to the days and years to come. I love intentional living. Thanks! Next week, I'll continue with the next week's prompts.

Starting the Conversation: What have you felt about your past year? What one word describes your past year? And what one word would you like to say next year at this time about your 2011?


  1. Jennifer - Lovely thoughts. I connect most with the Let Go and Travel. This year has not brought significant Let Go opportunities especially emotional and in working through them it was cathartic and freeing. Doing so allowed me to be healthier emotionally and in the relationships in my life, as you know I also reached out to mend fences (I hope). To your point on destructive relationships, 18 Years ago found me letting go of a very destructive relationship so ingrained in my life it was difficult to sever. To this day I mourn the loss of what should have been but know even in this past year of re-birth by letting go of guilt and other things I know I made the right decision. I miss that I don’t have a father and the kids don’t have a Grandfather but some things cannot and should not be passed on generation to generation. Unhealthy relationships hurt not only us but those we are connected to in ways we don't even see. In letting go in other areas and finding forgiveness for my actions and letting go and truly forgiving others I have been more at peace than ever before and for this I will always be thankful. This has allowed my get past my ego and reach out to others that I have left on the side as I was afraid of being hurt and unwilling to bend. I hope that letting go has allowed you to find peace and know that you are going to be ok.

    Travel has opened up lost spaces in my heart that bring great joy and I hope to be able to take my children to other countries to see and feel the unique gifts of history and culture. Travel is a lifelong love, so much so we decided not to by a new house but instead travel more as a family. This allows us to live w/ less things and cherish the time we have together and experience things together that will last forever.

    Take Care - Jill

  2. Thanks, Jill, for leaving a comment ... it's beautiful.
    To a wonderful 2011!


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