Tell Me Everything: How to get the good stories

January 6th, 2015

hallie-n-jojo-2014Wanna know a trick for finding the best stories? Let me tell you a story…

I have a tradition with my 17 year old niece. When she was 11, I was hanging out with her and her BFF after a holiday party her dad had. They wanted me to drive them to Dairy Queen. I said:

“I’ll drive you to Dairy Queen
if you give me some dirt on your lives.”

So we drove to Dairy Queen. They told me their 11-year-old dirt. After dishing over ice cream, we drove around for a few more hours because there was so much they had to say. That was 6 years ago.

Now whenever I visit my family in Ohio–which I do about twice a year–I go for “THE DRIVE” with my niece and her BFF.

Something magical happens while driving around in that car at night.

Something about driving in the dark, being inside the contained space of the car, facing forward into the night… I just listen. I ask questions. I tell them my stories of being their age. I don’t freak out. I don’t try to fix anything. I’m curious. I say tell me more. So they do.

They tell me everything.

When they run out of things to tell me they say “JoJo ask us questions.” So I do. I ask really good questions. They answer them. With gusto.

On these drives I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I feel like I’m holding the most precious, sacred, holy butterfly in my hand. These tough, tender-hearted, wise-beyond-their-years girls tell me everything.

I don’t know about you, but I sure didn’t have an Aunt JoJo when I was a girl.

Here’s the thing, though: it’s not too late. That teenager is still inside you wanting to kick down a door, perhaps, or whisper a secret, or change the world in some big or not so big way but isn’t quite sure how to do it.

If you have a story to tell and you’re not sure how to tell it, let me drive around in the car with you at night!

OK since we probably won’t have a chance to drive around in the car at night, I’ll ask some questions here:

Tell me about the time you said something you weren’t supposed to say, or did something you weren’t supposed to do.

Tell me something you did this year that you’re wicked proud of.

Tell me about a time you were scared to do something, and you did it anyway, and were glad you did it.

Tell me about a time you were scared to do something, and you did it anyway, and you totally bombed, but you didn’t die.

If we do get a chance to drive around in a car at night, or spend time in my office together, I’ll listen, and ask good questions, and help you find the stories and tell them so you mesmerize and inspire your listener and make lasting and real connections.

Did you have an Aunt Jojo? Someone who really listened? Tell me about her, (or Uncle Joe?), in the comments below.

2 responses to “Tell Me Everything: How to get the good stories”

  1. Kate Ritchie says:

    Love the idea of the telling of our stories to empower. Johanna, you make it real and point out the idea that not all stories are intended for the listener necessarily but are there for the teller. The teller, through the process of telling, can unravel the knot inside of them that’s there for whatever reason. Stories can help us cope and, in the end, we can create ( What I imagine to be.. ) a colorful canvas, a strong fabric that can hold us all like a big gigantic hammock swaying super high in the trees. Feet dangling. Rosy cheeked. Clear thoughts. Unafraid. Content.

    • johanna says:

      Thanks for the comment, Katie. I love the image of the strong fabric of stories we create in the telling of them. Yes indeed. Let’s all hang out in that big giant hammock!

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