If stories come to you, care for them.
And learn to give them away where they are needed.
Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.

Barry Lopez, in Crow and Weasel

So much of our lives pass without reflecting about what it is that we’re going through. About the weight of it. About the great burden or gift of it. And sometimes it is a burden and a gift at the same time – like helping to take care of a sick or dying parent (see first link below). Or taking care of kids. Or starting a new career as a 40- or 50-year-old.

Do this for yourself, or do it for your kids: Start telling some stories about your life and thinking about what you’ve learned.

What’s it like to raise kids as a single parent? In spite of those hardships, what do your kids mean to you? Now that you’ve lost a parent, either to illness or death, what do you miss about them? What did they teach you? If you’ve had a brush with death yourself, how has it changed you? What do you think and see and feel differently? If you’ve battled with depression, or come through a divorce, how did you make it through? Where did you find strength, or hope? What would you like to know about your parents? If you can ask them, record it. If it’s too late, consider having your children ask those questions of you.

Below are two personal stories worth watching on the MediaStorm site, one by a filmmaker/photojournalist couple with two children, who moved to New Jersey to take care of the wife’s aging Dad, and the other by a globe-trotting photojournalist so addicted to travel that he risks losing his wife and family (warning: some graphic images of war).

These people are talented professionals and they’ve added photos and video in a format called “audio slide shows*,” but a the core it’s their candid reflections about hard times and choices in their lives that are so moving. Your stories are no less powerful, and your families no less important. What they have is the knowledge that their personal stories are worth capturing and sharing, and the will to do it – even though it is sometimes hard enough just to live it.

I encourage you to watch both stories.

“The Sandwich Generation” by Julie Winokur and Ed Kashi:
http://mediastorm.org/0009.htm

“Evidence of My Existence” by Jim Lo Scalzo:
http://mediastorm.org/0018.htm

*If you would like us to help you script and/or produce an audio slide show, please contact us for more information.