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Own Your Story

by Jude Treder-Wolff, LCSW, RMT, CGP

   A young doctor, a specialist in infectious diseases, gets a call. From India. To treat Mother Teresa, who is in a serious decline. He does not know, at the time, how this call and this experience will change his life. A neuroscientist publishes research that is the culmination of his life’s work, only to have a misquote – and complete misrepresentation of his work – get into a news story that goes viral and will not die. The Director of the Environmental Protection Agency does her best to persuade her mother that a PhD in bioengineering is almost as good as being a medical doctor. If these lead-ins sound interesting to you, just imagine how interesting it was to hear these stories told in a live event at the World Science Festival in New York City last night. The good news for anyone was not lucky enough to be there is – you can hear them in a podcast at The Moth website.
     Here is what I think is important about live storytelling. Entering another person’s world, a world we cannot experience for ourselves because each person’s life is unique and has a distinct, unrepeatable fingerprint, is a vital form of human connection. It is the cornerstone of empathy and understanding, the glue that bonds people together in creative and meaningful ways. The really interesting part is that when we share our individual history, our particular take on an experience, with others, we understand it better. The shaping of the narrative reshapes what it means to us. In the company of others, our stories are richer and expand. In the moment of others’ laughter, or sighs, or enraptured silence in response to our story we are linked through imagination and shared memory. We must seek out opportunities to do this. It charges our creative self and energizes our power to use whatever has happened to us – however painful, hilarious or strange – to become stronger. And more present.
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, said Martha Graham, and because there is only one of you in all of time this expression is unique. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. 
Own your story.

Jude Treder-Wolff is a trainer/consultant, creative arts therapist and writer/performer. Her show Crazytown: my first psychopath is currently in performance in NYC. Information available at


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