How to Use Your Story to Empower Others

jodysaveslives
Tell it to me straight, Jody!

Imagine growing up as a child in an alcoholic family.

Continuously confronting people in your life who were under the influence and behaving oddly. Bouts of anger, violence and confusion in your life?

As a child, you’d probably ask yourself questions like – were you the reason your parents or alcoholic loved ones drank?

Would they stop drinking if you changed your behavior or attitude?

Were you making it worse by causing more stress in their lives?

The story she lived.

Jody Lamb, is a Michigan-based children’s book author who lived this very story. She grew up with alcoholic loved ones and was pained by the family members in her life who drank.

As a child, all she could do was try to adapt to their behavior and lifestyle. She sought understanding but felt all alone because alcoholic family members were not discussed in public. In fact, she thought she was the only one going through such experiences.

She also kept a diary during her childhood to try to come to terms with what was happening at home. She found writing as a way to help her understand what the adults in her life were doing to her and to give herself hope.

The story she wrote.

In her twenties, Jody continued to confront the behavior of her alcoholic loved ones, especially as they hit rock bottom. She also reflected on her 8-year old self, her childhood dreams and if she was doing what she really wanted to with her life.

In this midst of her “quarter-life crisis” as she calls it and by reflecting upon her childhood journals, she decided to start living her purpose and changing the world – one child at a time.

She wrote and published a children’s book, Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool about 12-year old Easter Ann Peters, a child of an alcoholic mother. The story is not only about how Easter survives middle school but creates her own Operation Cool to live a cool life in spite of the craziness of her home life. Her plan includes making friends, being more social around boys and standing up to bullies – especially the world’s jerkiest seventh grader, Horse Girl.

Easter’s mother spends most of the day asleep, hardly reaches out to anyone around town and has become a person Easter no longer recognizes.

The tween novel explores life living with an alcoholic loved one and trying to maintain a sense of normalcy despite all the other social pressures facing 12-year-old Easter. The story culminates with Easter’s mother being sent to rehab and restoring a sense of normalcy in Easter’s life and her relationship to her mother.

This is a story about hope triumphing over isolation, confusion and sadness written for children going through similar circumstances.

Your story.

I initially met Jody through one of my other favorite blogger’s blog, and realized that Jody was doing something remarkable in that she was taking personal pain and struggle to help others – especially children.

Not only through her books and writing but also through her advocacy, like this video here she filmed for Children of Alcoholic’s week:

Jody reminds all of us that we too can take our stories of pain and hurt and turn it into something positive and uplifting.

1) We all have stories of heart-break, pain and suffering from different parts of our lives. If you have journals from your younger days or when you were going through difficult times, reflect upon them.

2) What lessons did you learn? How did you become stronger, smarter or wiser from those lessons?

3) What are you willing to do with your story? Can you share it with others? Can you write about it? Can you send it into publishers, even if you get rejected 30 times?  Can you make a public service announcement? Talk to a community group? Share it in a blog post?

4) Can you start an advocacy group or join one which talks about the issue? Are you willing to raise public awareness and public dialogue about what you experienced? Talk to the media so you can help others facing similar situations?

5) Are you willing to embrace your vulnerabilities? Some of the stories of our past and our struggles are sad and embarrassing. We don’t want others to know about the unpleasant and prickly pieces of our life. The defeats and low points.

They say a diamond is a just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well. We want to shine as the diamond and stuff the charcoal pieces into a drawer no one will ever see.

Do you have the courage to tell us who you are?

6) Are you ready for the world to accept you as you truly are? Are you ready to allow your personal story to help, embrace, and uplift others?

Jody’s story truly inspires me and hopefully, you, to talk about the things that matter in your life. You never know who’s out there who needs to hear you.

You may be the one person who someone in pain or struggling can benefit from. It may be a child, someone being abused, someone in fear or in a vulnerable place.

Tell your story to empower someone today.

Jody Lamb blogs at www.jodylamb.com. Connect with her on facebook, twitter and Google+. You can purchase her book Easter Ann Peter’s Operation Cool for the young people in your life at http://www.jodylamb.com/easterannpeters/. It’s in paperback at Amazon and BarnesAndNoble.com. It’s also available in the Kindle store.

Now, friends, what do you think about Jody’s story? Are you telling your story? To who? How? What happened?

22 Comments

  1. Thank you so much, Vishnu! Thank you for the encouragement and the support. It means a lot.

    A note to the readers: We certainly all have life lessons to share with young people. Since you’re reading Vishnu’s blog, you’re likely exactly the kind of grownup who’s exceptionally aware of the power of one person’s words and actions. You can help others simply by sharing your life stories. I hope you do.

    1. Thank you Jody for giving children hope and continuing to tell your story! And thanks for inspiring the rest of us to do the same. Wishing you continued writing success 🙂

  2. We often forget (well, I most certainly do) that someone may be going through what we are going through and would be able to apply our learnings to their experience.

    I often wonder if I had done things differently if I had spoken to someone who had experienced a similar thing to me. Hhhmmm.

    Mass mentoring through books – awesome, Jody!

    – Razwana

    1. Thank you, Razwana! I often wonder what might have happened if when I was young, I’d overheard a passerby speaking about alcoholism. That is why I speak of it often. You never know who is listening and would benefit from it.

  3. I am loving this: “They say a diamond is a just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.” So true. Thank you for sharing your empowering story, Jody. What a pleasure to meet you. Hugs!

    Thanks, Vishnu!

      1. Martha – it’s a great read (even for adults 🙂 but definitely for children. I’m going to have a copy sent to you and will be in touch about your address.

  4. Hi Vishnu,

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Jody sounds like such an inspirational person and the work she is doing for children growing up with alcoholic family members is phenomenal.

    It reminded me of my own difficulties growing up with stuttering. I guess I never realised when I was younger that one day I would share my own story, which others who also experienced similar plights, might find hope and inspiration from.

    You’re spot on, my friend. If we have gone through serious types of pain and trauma and have come out the other end much stronger, then we must do what we can to share the story. We never know just how much positive impact it can have on others.

    Many thanks for including the link to my website in your post. Much appreciated.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Hiten, thank you! Growing up is so much more difficult than most people recall as adults. Kudos to you for sharing about your experiences as a child. High five!

      1. Hiten is more than telling his story and giving everyone along the way a lot of hope and encouragement. Not only through his blog and books but via interviews, news articles and other educational forums. Keep up the good work Hiten!

  5. The sentence, “We want to shine as the diamond and stuff the charcoal pieces into a drawer no one will ever see,” hit me with the searing blaze of truth. In my culture, it’s important to “not embarrass the family.” But it’s so true: our personal stories could uplift and empower someone else. I’m going to repeat that phrase to myself any time I feel tempted to not say something out of embarrassment or fear. Thanks for the great post!

  6. Dear Vishnu,

    I have been thinking of coming to your blog and reading your articles for quite sometime.. Again, I am a person who believes in actions combined with true destiny (I may be rite or wrong). So, for everything there is a time and I feel this is the rite time because my story is similar to that of Jody and I am building my blog towards a bigger purpose which I will reveal in a few days from now..

    Keep writing and keep inspiring the world.

    Yes, I was able to correlate my life to that of the charcoal that had handled stress quite effectively.

    You too are a charcoal, I believe..

    1. Hello Rafi! Thanks for coming by. Thank you for writing and telling your story as well. Looking forward to reading it and learning from it.

      There are many people out there that are wanting/needing to hear our stories.

  7. What an amazing story! Each persons story has value and can impact other people. I’m learning how to better use my story to share and teach leadership principles. Wonderful post!

    1. I’m looking forward to learning your story Dan and sharing it with my readers real soon. Each of our stories has a powerful impact, more than even what we can imagine. We just need to tell it.

  8. Jody, I am so glad you are in kids’ corners because they need you! I didn’t know of any family members who suffered from alcoholism until I was an adult. It is heart breaking. I can only imagine the pain of dealing with it as a child, who is trying to understand the world. Thank you for being a ray of light for children in very dark situations!

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