The Conversation Begins Here...

by Joanie Butman

Why the emphasis on starting a conversation? Because it is a lost art. We have become a global community where extended families don’t necessarily live in close proximity. Most are scattered across the country, if not across the globe. Somewhere in that distance we have lost the value of their wisdom and guidance that was once incorporated into our daily lives. The elderly are not on Facebook or Twitter so they are invisible to the upcoming generation who rely heavily on technology as their main mode of communication. We are hoping our campaign will bridge that communication gap and bring the elder generations’ stories to life for everyone regardless of age. I urge you to make the effort to seek out an elderly parent, grandparent or mentor to solicit their story and submit it for them as many face health challenges that prevent them from writing their own. They need someone to be their eyes and hands as well as their IT person. You might be surprised as I was when I interviewed my mother. In writing her story, I discovered a missing piece of my own.

While technology now allows us to connect with people around the world, sometimes it comes at the cost of connecting to the ones around the corner or even across the table. The technology age leaves many aching for a human connection. By telling our stories, it opens the door for compassion and a personal connection that couldn’t exist otherwise. For example, a newly widowed woman will find more comfort talking with another widow than with a woman who still falls asleep and wakes up every day with her partner by her side. Someone with cancer will seek comfort from others who have traveled the same road because those are the ones that understand their pain, fears and challenges. A happily married person will never be able to relate to the pain of someone going through a divorce. This common bond is the basis of every support group in existence. We are hoping the Choose Wisely! book will become a source of comfort and support regardless of what challenge you are currently facing. By collecting so many different stories, we hope to address the problems most of us face every day. My guess is that in the course of a lifetime, we all face the same litany of choices and challenges.

And who hasn’t experienced a moment of joy when your first reaction is to share it with someone? It is an innate human instinct to share our joys and sorrows. In the same way that sharing burdens ease the load, sharing joys and victories increase the pleasure. It’s the concept behind the tradition of celebrations. Somehow, whatever the accomplishment or occasion, sharing your happiness with others brings joy to them as well. It can also inspire others to action when they see someone overcoming the odds to accomplish something most deemed impossible. “If they can do it, I can do it.”