Recently I attended a meeting for continuing education hours. Surprise, I am really a professional. I just chose to change my profession, for awhile, to raising two beautiful daughters. One session was taught by a prominent local college professor who has taught for many years. He speaks at seminars such as the one I was attending. His message was, “people learn by hearing stories”. He often interjects stories relating to his own life and personal experiences. He said, tell your story. Everyone has one.
The message of “tell your story” has rattled around in my head for sometime. What does that mean and how can I tell my story? Do I have a story? Is anyone interested in hearing it? Along with this message, Natalie Chanin continues to be a participant in the rattling going on. Hum, what does that mean?
This morning I read a wonderful article on Natalie and her company Alabama Chanin. It is called “Loving The Thread” and it is written by an author at “The Bitter Southern”. I have had the good fortune of attending a week long sewing retreat with Natalie and her staff. For the longest time I could not explain the effect that week had on me. Today I understand it.
Natalie is truly telling her story. Yes, she does speak about it when asked. But that is not her way of story telling. She lives her story and to read it is like looking through a beautiful picture book. She has deep beliefs about how life can and should be lived. Certain issues are very important to her. Natalie has returned to her home town of Florence, Alabama. This area was the largest manufacture of tee shirts. When NAFTA was passed the lights literally went out in this community overnight. Natalie is revitalizing this industry and is doing it by following her passion for her ideals and beliefs. Her company, in every way, is a reflection of her beliefs. The companies she associates with are a reflection of her beliefs and her mission. Patagonia and Nest are two such companies. There is nothing fake about Natalie starting with her beautiful white hair. And when you talk with her it is as though her eyes see into your soul. One reads her story by watching her and her company. She is an open book but, far from a simple book. She and her company bring “zen” into my life. I find a peacefulness that is hard to come upon in this crazy world we live in.
The rattling has stopped and I have figured it out. I do have a story, my story. And I can tell it. But, I need to live it. As I continue my journey I must keep in focus what my beliefs are. I must examine them deeper and understand why I believe them. Before the world was so open to us we believed because that was all we knew. Now, because of the Internet we can be exposed to ideas, cultures and traditions from all over the world. We are bombarded with ads telling us how we should look, what we should eat and how we should live. Our choices are too many now. Because I have taken the time to listen to the “rattling” in my mind, I know what to do and I know I can do this. I can tell my story by how I live. And this year I will focus on taking that concept to a deeper level. I can hardly wait to find out what I discover!