Stories can be poison or medicine, we get to choose – AllSwell Creative

Stories can be poison or medicine, we get to choose

Posted by AllSwell Creative on

Photo by Heidi Zumbrun

Hey, friend.

I’m not gonna lie. It’s been a bumpy ride for a lot of us lately, especially given current events. How are you doing?

Inspired in part by the drama unfolding on the national stage, I recently picked up a dusty copy of an old friend, “Women Who Run with the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Sort of a female counterpart to Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth,” I think I was a 19 when I originally read this treatise on feminine archetypes and re-wilding womanhood (yes, that’s a thing). It’s been a pleasure to revisit these pages with a bunch more years behind me.

One of the nuggets that resonated most is the author’s proclamation that “stories are medicine” to which I respond, “Hell, yeah.” At recent AllSwell workshops that phrase rang in my head while I listened with immense respect as participants shared their writing.

The stories we say out loud, the stories we share with our communities, the stories we tell ourselves, they can be poison or medicine, we get to choose.

Speaking of stories that can heal, it felt very “just in time” that one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, recently published a book on hope. (You can read an excerpt below.) Lamott reminds us, “ showing up with hope to help others, I’m guaranteed that hope is present. Then my own hope increases. By creating hope for others, I end up awash in the stuff.”

Experience has taught me that being in community can heal pretty much anything. That’s partly why I host AllSwell workshops, and it’s why when the going gets rough I know showing up for someone else and sharing stories is probably the best way to get to the other side.

We gathered a crop of hope-inducing stories below. Happy reading.

In Swellness,


Photo by Brett Warren

Expression Session: Billy Reid, Whalebone Magazine

Forced to shutter his CFDA Award winning business shortly after the events of 9/11, Billy Reid relocated his family to Florence, Alabama where he revived his business and launched the wildly successful music, food, and design festival Shindig. Visit the link up top for more on Reid’s journey and his take on community.

Photo by Jen Altman

Drunk Birds Are Causing Havoc in a Minnesota Town, Police Say They’ll Sober Up Soon, Washington Post

Police in Gilbert, Minnesota are warning residents about a group of youthful residents unable to handle their alcohol. They’ve been drifting around town disoriented, narrowly avoiding getting hit by cars. But these aren’t teenagers getting drunk. It’s the local bird population. True story at the link above.

The Early Female Aviators Who Changed The World, Outside Online

Amelia Earhart wasn’t the only female aviator storming the skies in rickety open-cockpit planes in the 1920s. In 1928, fewer than a dozen American women held pilot’s licenses, but a small, scrappy group of them were determined to change the face of flying. These lady pilots notched new speed and distance records, executed daring theatrics in airborne races, and stunned the press with their feats of survival, performing mid-air repairs and leaping out of fiery crashes. Read about these badass women at the link up top.

Photo by Beth O'Rourke

I Did An ‘Emoji Fast’ & It Changed The Way I Communicate, Mind Body Green

Emoji are the “Lucky Charms” of daily conversation. They're the equivalent of an easy-to-grab, sugar bomb food that has little to no nutritious value. When I start feeling unclear in my relationships and/or if things are being miscommunicated, I've started forgoing emoji all together in favor of words and expression. It's remarkable how much we rely on these little images to stand in for our voices and how they can obscure real connection. For more visit the link up top.

Photo by Michael Ochs

A Responsible Freedom: Patti Smith on ‘Little Women’, Paris Review

“I was a wiry daydreamer, just ten years old. Life was already presenting challenges for an awkward tomboy growing up in the gender-defined 1950s. Uninterested in preordained activities, I would take off on my blue bicycle, to a secluded place in the woods, and read the books I had checked out, often over and over again, from the local library. I could hardly be found without book in hand and sacrificed sleep and hours at play to enter wholeheartedly each of their unique worlds.”

Photo by Dylan Gordon

‘Show Up With Hope’: Anne Lamott’s Plan For Facing Adversity, National Geographic

Hope is a sometimes cranky optimism, trust, and confidence that those you love will be OK—that they will come through, whatever life holds in store. Hope is the belief that no matter how dire things look or how long rescue or healing takes, modern science in tandem with people’s goodness and caring will boggle our minds, in the best way. Read more of Anne Lamott’s hopeful doctrine above.


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