You have a story.
In fact, you are a story. One that is ever in progress and constantly evolving in new directions.
When you were young, there was a freedom to fully, daily explore that story—what you loved, what you cared about—with complete attention and abandon.
So what happens when you find that you have grown up and evolved away from your story? What happens when the things you love to do and the things you truly care about have taken a back seat to the day-to-day?
The list of reasons, excuses, and circumstances that can pull you off “your” course and on to another are endlessly varied. Life happens, wonderful surprises happen, tragedy happens. And sometimes it just happens that you changed your mind. I’m passionate about the need to pursue one’s story. And, to that end, I recently have published my first children’s book titled Frieda B. Herself, designed to instill in children and adults alike the belief that each of us carries a unique and important story inside of us. Because no one’s set of gifts and purpose is exactly like yours. And if you don’t tell your story, then you don’t grace the gap in the world you’re uniquely gifted to fill. So how do you re-connect with the story inside of you?
My advice: Observe how a child does it.
Austin Gutwein figured out how to live his story a lot younger than many of us—he started Hoops of Hope in 2004 when he was nine years old.
His advice to those of us looking to re-direct our stories and our lives is simple: Ask yourself, “What breaks your heart?”
Austin’s heart was broken by the story of AIDS orphans in Africa. And, at nine, he immediately began to use his unique set of gifts—including a love for basketball—to raise money and awareness to build for those children and their families a school and two medical clinics. Today, at sixteen, he has raised more than $1.2 million dollars to help cure what breaks his heart, and he’s just getting started. His book, Take Your Best Shot, tells more of his story. It’s one of my favorite reads.
For me, personally, what’s heart breaking is meeting and observing children with no sense of self-worth. And so my own personal story has become all about inspiring children to be the magnificent individuals they are. It’s using my writing and speaking gifts to get people of all ages to dream their dreams big and believe they can be.
How wonderful it is when the truth of purpose and a personal story is grasped so young that a child never has to struggle with losing it. That one shy, quiet child, sitting in the back row at one of my school visits? That’s the one I want to get to most—I want to open her up to all that she is.
And so, what breaks my heart has proven to be the key strength to my story. Austin has it right.
So. What breaks your heart? What moves you so profoundly that you feel led to lend it all of the gifts that you have? When you find it and use it to fuel your story, you will ask yourself, as one of my Facebook group members recently wrote, “What took me so long?”
“All the color and music inside—set it free. Just dream your dreams big and believe they can be.”—Frieda B. HerselfBy Renata Bowers for Work Her Way