TELLING MY TRUTH OUT LOUD by Cara Jones

Knees shaking. Heart pounding. “What are you doing?!” my thoughts spin as I sit in the back row at a MOTH Story Slam. I just put my name in a hat to tell my most personal story in public. Like maybe two-hundred-people public.

My name is called to a microphone on an empty stage. The story I’ve been working on for five years in writing, speaking, and filming is calling. All of it unexpressed. Just. Like. Me. Until this moment.

I have five minutes.

My legs wobble as I walk up on stage. With hands clenched behind my back and a shaky voice, I begin to tell my story.

“It’s the summer of 1995 and I’m standing in the Seoul Olympic Stadium holding the hand of a man I met just a month before, and am about to marry,” I hear my voice trembling through the microphone.

I was always the shy girl growing up. Waited to be asked questions. Never raised my hand. Never talked back. Never wanted to make anyone uncomfortable. But this story was about to make me and others, including my family, just that.

I can barely breathe as I continue explaining my upbringing in the Unification Church, including my participation in a mass wedding and arranged marriage when I was 20. How there, on the Astro Turf floor of the Seoul Olympic Stadium, I committed to marrying a man I’d met just a month before. How Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification Church I was raised in, officiated the wedding and had matched me and my then-husband using 8×10 photographs. How I ultimately left the marriage and broke from my parents and the church.

This story was one that, in the past, I could only tell in dark corners of bars.

“Stay quiet, stay small, stay perfect,” I’d tell the story.

“Speak it, get it out of you, TELL YOUR F&^&@# STORY” it would yell back.

It took me years of pillow bashing and talk therapy and countless storytelling workshops to become the woman who could finally stand in its truth.

The ripple effect of excavating and telling this story resulted in the documentary film Blessed Child (premiering two years later at DOC NYC in 2019) and inspired my current story coaching business.

I believe a powerful story is determined not by how dramatic it is, but by how much truth it holds inside. I now support others in excavating and sharing these truths and untethering their voices. The writing, businesses, projects, awareness, and healing born out of this truth telling has taken my breath away.

As I exited the Moth stage that night, I felt as if I had left a five ton burden on it. My story was no longer mine. It was everyone’s. The feeling I felt on my way home that night wasn’t elation, but something I hadn’t felt in all those years of holding my story back.

Hello, freedom.

Cara Jones is a former Emmy Award winning broadcast journalist, founder of Storytellers for Good and story coach. Her current story coaching work was born out of a seven year journey of telling her own story through the documentary film, Blessed Child. Cara now helps entrepreneurs untether their voices through the telling of their deepest personal stories, wisdom and truth. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Huff Post, The Moth and Boston Globe.

 

A NOVEL IDEA by Kristin McCloy

A story about how caring for animals feels as novel (if not more) as writing a book . . .

Read her personal story in a new book.
Released on August 4, 2022
Paperback & Kindle now available! 

“This book holds together the power women find when they are honest and courageous and truthful. Some of these stories moved me to tears, others made me believe in humanity again, many I could identify with. This book brought me tremendous joy, insight and brought me back to believe in the human spirit.”

~ JULIANNA MARGULIES, multiple award-winning actor and author of Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life

ABOUT KRISTIN MCCLOY

Kristin McCloy is a thrice-published author (Velocity, Some Girls, and Hollywood Savage), working on her fourth, and fifth, and a book of short stories, and living in Oakland with the cat who owns her, Zelly, and the family who took them in.  

MEET A MUSLIM by Moina Shaiq

Moina Shaiq

A story from an American Muslim about hosting her own Q&A events after 9/11 . . .

Read her personal story in a new book.
Released on August 4, 2022
Paperback & Kindle now available! 

“This book holds together the power women find when they are honest and courageous and truthful. Some of these stories moved me to tears, others made me believe in humanity again, many I could identify with. This book brought me tremendous joy, insight and brought me back to believe in the human spirit.”

~ JULIANNA MARGULIES, multiple award-winning actor and author of Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life

ABOUT MOINA SHAIQ

Moina Shaiq has been living in the United States for 43 years. She is a mother of four children and a grandmother of six. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Economics. She is also a community activist, devoting herself to building bridges of understanding. 

THE FABULOSITY OF SIMPLICITY by Alcoholic Anonymous

Alcoholic Anonymous

A story about getting sober and the joys of a simple life . . .

Read her personal story in a new book.
Released on August 4, 2022
Paperback & Kindle now available! 

“This book holds together the power women find when they are honest and courageous and truthful. Some of these stories moved me to tears, others made me believe in humanity again, many I could identify with. This book brought me tremendous joy, insight and brought me back to believe in the human spirit.”

~ JULIANNA MARGULIES, multiple award-winning actor and author of Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life

ABOUT ALCOHOLIC ANONYMOUS

Alcoholic Anonymous is a 58-year-old sober wife, mom, citizen, happy left-wing broad, voracious reader, lover of all things vintage & long-time resident of Greenwich Village.

Visit AA.org for support, resources, and to find a meeting near you.

“WE CAN READ!” by Anna Elkins

Photo by Carl Attard from Pexels

A story about giving thanks as an antidote to the bad stuff  . . .

Read her personal story in a new book.
Released on August 4, 2022
Paperback & Kindle now available! 

“This book holds together the power women find when they are honest and courageous and truthful. Some of these stories moved me to tears, others made me believe in humanity again, many I could identify with. This book brought me tremendous joy, insight and brought me back to believe in the human spirit.”

~ JULIANNA MARGULIES, multiple award-winning actor and author of Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life

ABOUT ANNA ELKINS

Anna Elkins is a poet and painter. She earned a B.A. in Art and English and an M.F.A. and Fulbright Fellowship in poetry. Her poetry collection Hope of Stones won the 2021 Oregon Book Award. Anna has written, painted, and taught on six continents and now lives in a tiny town near the Rogue River with her husband.

WHY I BECAME A BUDDHIST by Pema Chödrön (a story told on video)

In this six-minute clip, Pema Chödrön candidly and humorously shares the story of her broken marriage and how it ultimately led her on the path to becoming a Buddhist nun. 

Note: This is the only Dare to be Fabulous story that was featured on video. It remains on the website while the book is prepared for publication in Summer, 2022.

Good Medicine by Pema Chödrön. Copyright © 1999 Pema Chödrön. All rights reserved. Used with permission from Sounds True, Inc., Boulder, CO

ABOUT PEMA CHÖDRÖN

Pema Chödrön was born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in 1936 in New York City. She began studying Buddhism in her mid-thirties and became a novice nun in 1974. At the request of the Sixteenth Karmapa, she received the full bikshuni ordination in the Chinese lineage of Buddhism in 1981 in Hong Kong. Since 1984, Chödrön has been the director of Gampo Abbey, a Tibetan monastery for Western monks and nuns in Nova Scotia. She is also the author of many popular books, including The Wisdom of No Escape, When Things Fall Apart, and The Things that Scare You. 

HEART by Julia Butterfly Hill

Julia Butterfly Hill and Luna

The root word for courage comes from the French and means “heart.” True courage can only come when we are speaking out or taking action from the heart. For me, this seed of understanding took root and began to grow in December of 1997.

While traveling west with friends, I experienced the ancient redwoods in person for the first time. I was deeply and profoundly touched by their beauty, majesty, and ancient wisdom. I felt like I had walked into the most sacred of cathedrals.

A few weeks later, I found out that over 97 percent of these trees—that grow to be 200 to 300 feet tall and 2,000 to 3,000 years old—have already been logged and that they are continuing to be cut down with highly destructive industrial logging practices. I could not believe this was happening. I felt like I should do something to try to help stop this atrocity from continuing, but I didn’t know how or what to do.

Then, I heard that people were living in trees in order to protect them from being cut down and to try to bring attention to the issue. I thought to myself, “I could do that!” I grew up with two brothers and no sisters, so I knew how to climb trees! I wasn’t quite sure how to be an activist. I wasn’t even sure what that meant exactly. But tree climbing was something I knew how to do, so I volunteered.

When I climbed 180 feet up into the branches of a 200-foot-tall, over 1,000-year-old redwood tree, now known as “Luna,” I thought I would be there for three weeks to a month. It turned out to be over two years, 738 days to be exact, before my feet would touch the ground again. In that time, I faced many challenges that left my heart, spirit, and body broken. There were so many moments where I wanted to give up. Yet every time I felt myself in this space, I would pray and ask for strength. The funny thing is I would always get sent more challenges. Finally, I realized that I was receiving what I had asked for because the only way we get stronger is through exercise, including the exercise of heart, mind, and spirit. Every challenge then became an opportunity for learning and growth.

It was in this way that I realized that every moment, every day, every choice is an opportunity for courage. Every time I choose to act consciously out of my love for my world, no matter what the status quo says, no matter how difficult the choice might be, I am living a life that has meaning, joy, and true power. No matter how dark things in our world seem sometimes, I am the only one who can consciously choose to shine a light of caring, commitment, and courage. It really is a moment, by moment, choice. Yes, we need the “big” acts to encourage and inspire us, but it is only through looking at these as examples to empower ourselves, that we find the extraordinary person that lives within the heart of each and every one of us.

Julia Butterfly HillJulia Butterfly Hill climbed the 1,000-year-old Redwood to stop loggers from cutting it down. Little did she know she’d remain in its canopy, defying the scare tactics of the logging company, for two full years. Julia received international attention and went on to become an international speaker, author, and life coach.