Stories and second winds - write well, edit often
How do you tell yours?
Picture the scene - you’ve just met up with a close friend you haven’t seen in a while and you both settle down to a good old natter. You know those chats when you while away the time putting the world to rights, updating one another on the trials and tribulations of this wonderful thing we call life. And it is wonderful, because it’s the biggest story we’ll ever tell, and for some of us it’s been decades in the making; all carefully pieced together by yours truly, giving life its meaning, making us the person we are. However, do we ever stop to think about the way we tell it and pay attention to what we say?
When did you last do some editing?
I came across a fabulous quote recently, ‘Your life is your story. Write well. Edit often’. It was the edit bit that struck me because in those few simple words I found myself taking a moment to reminisce and think about my story, and realise I’m far from done and there’s still a lot of living to do! I think turning 50 a couple of years ago gave me an itch to shake things up a bit! Decade birthdays have a habit of doing that, don’t they?! Besides, there’s a big wide world out there.
I realise too that it’s also very easy to get caught up in our own stories and convince ourselves that we can’t, or we’re too old, or it’s not worth it, or we’ll fail, and all this chatter becomes part of the story.
Fancy drafting a new chapter?
What does it take then, to stop and think about how we tell it, and what it might mean? We’ve just touched on the decade birthday, but it might also be an empty nest, a loss or a yearning to find rewarding work and more balance, or maybe to stop doing something?
Perhaps an opportunity is beckoning but somehow you seem to talk yourself out of it, rather than open yourself up to it? Perhaps you have an urge to learn something new? Or maybe you’re bored of the same old routine and fancy writing a new wish list (which could make for a very interesting chapter)!
It’s strange because when we get that torn feeling of being stuck yet wanting to break free, sometimes something appears out of nowhere. We find ourselves in edit mode and the story suddenly shifts up a gear. In my case, it was a conversation that quite literally blew my socks off.
Hearing someone's story can help re-write yours
A few years ago, I was in the company of a wonderful woman. She had tutored a course I was on and kindly agreed to take part in some research I was doing at the time, and so we met a few weeks later. Fascinated by her life and work, her story unfolded. At the tender age of 56, she was about to retire when her beloved dog died. Her cat, overwhelmed by grief, stopped eating. Saddened and very worried, she bought a new dog. Knowing it was a potentially risky move, the cat, quite taken with the newcomer, rallied. Amazing! And so with happy pets once more, she got a second wind and went on to re-write the next two decades of her story, working and travelling internationally.
This remarkable lady was still consulting part time when we met at the age of 81. At that moment, everything I had believed about life, work and retirement changed. When I think about her story, it is still vivid, as she told it yesterday. It is because of her that I remind myself to ‘edit often’.
What we thought was the end is just the start of the sequel
I now believe that we’re never too old, there is enough time, and it is fine to fail trying something new because the effort will be worth it, in fact, is already worth it, because it is about the way we tell it. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for that next cosy catch up. I wonder - which parts of your story would welcome some editing? Your second wind might just appear out of nowhere.
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