Sunday, August 14, 2011

Have you told your story lately?

I was at a professional conference last week, and had the honor of listening to the story of a wounded warrior.  This woman – a leader from our military – lost her right arm in an attack on her humvee in Iraq.  Now, she is a leader for the Wounded Warrior – an organization dedicated to helping support wounded veterans and their families.

She received two standing ovations from the crowd of well over 1,000 in the audience – one when she took the stage and another after she told her story.

She spoke simply. She spoke with humility and grace. She told her story honestly. We needed, at some level, to hear what happened to her; and not only that – but we needed to hear her voice tell it. We wanted to hear not only the events, but how she felt, how she changed, how her story didn’t end – but continues to this day.

She told us about what the moment of attack was like – the sound of gunfire and the bright flash of light as a weapon tore her vehicle and part of her body to pieces. She told us about lying in the dirt waiting for transportation to a military hospital, and how her fellow soldier (a man under her command) bled into the earth next to her and asked her to tell his children he loved them. She talked about the dozens of surgeries it took to rebuild her body and her journey to becoming a leader and business entrepreneur.

She is strong. She stood up on stage, under lights and microphones, to tell us her story. And her story made me tingle. Brought tears to my eyes when I heard the pain, the calm reaction to such terror, and ultimately the deep desire to continue to tell her story to those who would listen.

There is power in story. There is power in stories as dramatic and heart breaking and inspiring as hers. But there is also power in YOUR story.

Have you told your story lately?


  1. It's funny you should post about this topic, Karen, because I've considered writing a memoir off and on for a little while now. And while my story doesn't compare to that of the female soldier you heard speak, what I want to tell might strike a chord with someone in this world who happened to go through a similar experience as mine. But I'll never find out unless I tell my story.

    Reading your post has only given me more confidence to follow through on my memoir idea. :)

  2. So glad you told her story, which is amazingly impressive, but also that you ended with: "But there is also power in YOUR story."

    Sometimes a story is dramatic and involves blood and death and tears, and sometimes a story involves inner bleeding, death and tears. All are worthy of being shared (though admittedly, it takes more skill as a writer to be "shiny" enough to attract a reader with a less outwardly dramatic story).

  3. How wonderful that she is telling her story and inspiring so many with her words. Like Beverly, I am glad you asked your readers if they are telling their stories. The more I read and watch videos of human life struggles I realize that we all have a story to tell and those stories help us connect to one another.

  4. Hello. What an insightful site with valuable comments and advice for an aspiring writer such as myself.