Do you remember the first time you realized that everything is connected to everything else? For me, it was first semester of freshman year at Macalester College. I was shocked to discover that each of my classes, disparate as they were (Theatre With a Global Perspective, The Biology of Conservation) kept on resonating with each other. It became a game each semester to notice what themes were emerging across all my classes.

This weekend the theme of Sacred Stories rose up out of the disparate activities of my weekend. On Saturday I attended The Sacred Story Project: Messages to the World. What a sweet workshop offered by Cynthia Winton-Henry, founder of InterPlay. We spent the day telling stories about experiences infused with love and experiences that suck (thanks, Cynthia, for keeping it real!). We were searching for the stories from our lives that we want to tell over and over.

I was in kind of a bad mood on Saturday, so I had a hard time accessing stories that felt nourishing. I kept on thinking about the stories that I DO tell over and over which I’m TIRED of telling. Stories of pain, abandonment, disconnection, dysfunction. Going to therapy seems all about retelling my pain stories over and over. And even in my academic coaching work, although I often ask my clients, “What went well this week?,” we seem to dwell even more on the question, “What didn’t go well, why, and how can we fix it?”

At the Sacred Stories workshop, it occurred to me that I want to start harvesting all the joy stories from my life. There are so many of them! I want to mine my own life for the joy stories, and I want to hear my friends’ stories as well. You can bet that tomorrow at Tuesday Night InterPlay (which also happens to be my birthday!) we will be playing dancing, singing and telling our joy stories. And I’m so curious about my academic coaching clients as well. When was the last time I asked them about what their most joyful moment last week was? I wonder if any of them will tell stories of experiences in the classroom, with teachers, learning?! I hope so. And if not, I hope to start directing their attention towards those small moments of joy in learning.

As I remember my little “game” that I played each semester back at Macalester, I realize how joyful it felt when I discovered a new theme emerging among my classes. Aha!! I’d feel. Look at this revelation I’ve uncovered!! Through my InterPlay teaching and my academic coaching, I hope to help myself and my companions continue noticing their own joy moments and turning them into stories for safe keeping. (By the way, this doesn’t mean we won’t also keep talking about what sucks. Sometimes that’s soooo necessary and empowering! I’m just looking to create some balance…).

Shoot! This blog entry got so long, I didn’t get to tell you about the OTHER event this weekend that was all about claiming the sacred stories in our lives: I went to the Berkeley Rep to see How To Write a New Book for the Bible. I won’t say more, other than that I highly recommend it!