Ever wonder what to do with all your personal stories—beyond memory-keeping, photographing, scrapbooking, and sharing them out into the world?
Think of your tiny, personal stories as little guides, custom-made just for you…
Oh man, if you haven’t tried this, you’ve got to start asap!
In this article, I’m showing you the ropes to use my quick, 5-Part Practice on your stories.
It’s kind of like a filtering system. I’ve been using this framework on my stories since 2017 and also teaching it to men & women around the world ever since. You’ll see. You’ll run your own stories through this, one by one, and good things will start to happen!
Yup, I sound like a fortune cookie. It’s because everyone finds something different, because no two people have lived the same stories. Think in the realm of: joy, connection, re-connection, meaningfulness, sense of self, direction, finally expressed, release, healing, and more.
After reading this article, you’ll be able to try for yourself. Today if you want to! Try on a few of your stories and see what happens… Who knows? Maybe some meaningfulness with a big ol’ side of joy to say the least.
It consists of 5 habit categories:
📝 Expression – two parts: a) expressing your heart b) tangible story-zone
After reading the example below, if you’d like an in-depth look at the DGS Practice with full meanings behind each habit, plus several more examples, then watch this free video workshop.
Your first step is to choose one of your stories.
For this example, I used a story on my own tiny story list – “young Marie in the apple trees.”
⇢ Emphasis on tiny. The magic of this process happens with the details, not stories full of many moments.
Next, follow the DGS Practice below—answering the questions for the story you chose.
You may start buzzing with multiple ideas. If so, narrow your ideas down to one action per DGS Practice habit category. I mean, you *can* do all the things that sound exciting… To set yourself up for simple + success: start with just one thing. Cool?
Below, I’ve detailed my ideas as examples and, as I felt needed, explanations on why I chose the actual action I took. I hope this is like reading a direct line into my thought process in a way you can replicate for yourself.
IMPORTANT NOTE: These actions can vary far and wide!
It all depends on the story at hand and your end-goal.
People who work with me are stacked with ideas (too many to list here) and support on this. If that sounds helpful, start here.
FINALLY.. Here’s what I did to get the most out of this tiny, personal story…
Answer the question: What happened?
The short of it:
My childhood home had 7 fruit trees in the backyard. 5 apple, 2 pear. Over the years, I tried to climb all of them, but only two became favorites. The first favorite was easiest to climb with lots of branches to choose from. It was the go-to tree for my little sister and I to share and show off to our friends. When I was finally tall enough, another tree became my favorite.
For awhile, my sister was too little, so felt like *my* tree. It was like going off into my own world. I’d fill up a 5-gallon bucket with things to do (usually a book, a notebook, and pens) and snacks (obviously). I made a pulley with a rope over a branch to pull my bucket of goodies to me once I climbed up. Entire afternoons up in that tree among the apple blossoms and the green of summer.
Answer the question: Do I want / need to record something for this story? If so, how?
Nothing has been recorded for this story.
– Those trees have since been cut down. There are no photos of the tree or me up in it. Sharing this story in an audio or film clip or writing this story could be a way to preserve it.
– I don’t feel the need to record this story outside of the short and sweet written snippet above. Maybe I’ll add that to my journal for my legacy boxes or future genealogy files if I start a family tree notebook (ancestry binder; my link).
Answer the question: What meaning did I give this story? What impact did this have on me?
– My go-to here is to directly answer (journal / write) on these prompts through the lens of this story. That’s exactly what I did and it was enough. I saw that this story is one of a thread of stories with similar meanings (more on that shortly).
– Sometimes I might write to the subject of the story. I could write a letter to that apple tree—she was once a dear old friend, after all. I could also write a letter to my parents who chose that home, with the fruit trees I loved, as my childhood home… I’m thankful for what those trees gave me.
Answer the question: How could I tangibly bring this meaningful story into my day-to-day?
– I could plant an apple tree at our Masse Mountain home.
– I could find a piece of artwork of an apple tree.
– The idea I actually chose for this Practice habit lives under an umbrella of a handful of my tiny stories.
You see, the heart of this apple tree story—the way it affected me (the Expression – Express Your Heart piece of the Practice)—is about me finding sanctuary in the wild. There’s a whole string of my tiny stories with the same meaning.
There’s an old photo of me (above). Circa: 1987 at my grandparent’s 40-acre, up north property. I fell asleep IN THE FOREST. I was about 20-months old.
I don’t remember falling asleep in the forest. I have no memory of that trip.
However, when I look at this photo, I feel the entire string of my tiny stories. This photo visually glues those stories together in a way that makes sense in my spirit.
Reading this photo (for me) is like:
“Oh yeah, I know that place. Among the green of the trees and the forest and the wild. I am free. I am safe. I’m most authentically me. I am home.”
Falling asleep on the forest floor level comfortable?! That forest love defines innate.
No wonder I loved that apple tree so much!
My old apple tree was about as wild as it gets in suburbia! ha.
Back to grown, 30-something-year-old Marie and the DGS Practice: Expression (Story Zone)…
Tangibly expressing a story needs to serve a meaningful purpose for the action to be most fruitful.
Here’s how I figured it out for this story:
In the past, I’ve drifted away from the feeling I described of that photograph above (another story for another time).
Yes, I was in the driver’s seat of my life.
I was a seeker of things I wanted: get married, get the large forever home on a little land, raise a family, etc.
I even got what I wanted.
So, I told myself that I was living intentionally, should be grateful, etc.
And also, there was this void.
It was hard to ignore around 2015 when my babies were 4 & 2, I was working on my business part time, and began working with a couple of women coaches on my business & life.
It was around then that I started doing this story work (before I saw it as a systemic Practice). That’s how I discovered where I went wrong:
1. I never fully defined what those things I wanted could look and feel like:
I felt like I was in a cookie-cutter life… and I never want to again!
2. Somewhere along the way, I stopped getting to know who Marie is and who she wants to become.
Isn’t it wild that processing your stories can be so illuminating?!
So, that’s what I drew on to figure out the core purpose behind displaying this story in my day-to-day.
I wanted the apple tree story to perpetually guide me into alignment with my sense of self and who I want to become. When I’m in that state of mind, I nourish the space that makes me feel most alive.
Considering how driven I am and the rabbit holes of life that I fall into, it’s the heart of the story that I need reminders for most.
Apple-tree specific not required.
That’s why I chose to honor my tiny, apple tree story in the way I did…
Among a few more meaningful things (including Queen Selena 👑), my 1987 photo is on a wall in my cabin office near my desk…
It’s a grounding, steady reminder of a piece of who I am and what I love.
I see it everyday… and because of this story work, I’m effortlessly intentional about noticing it and savoring the feeling of the photograph with my whole heart.
Answer the question: How can I use this story to connect with someone else (to say “thank you” or “you matter”) or for myself?
– Apart from maybe telling my parents how much I loved childhood in that tree, I don’t have a link back from this story to say, “you matter,” to anyone. This story is more about my own, independent lived experience.
– Connection to this story is something I want for myself and to keep alive in the way I live moving forward. I’ve done so in the way we chose to live on Masse Mountain, planting a reminder through the photograph, and more. So, what else could I need?
If you’re working on a story of your own and you feel similarly—”what else could I need?”—please know that you’re not at a dead end.
You’re at the MF finish line!
If, at this point in the DGS 5-Part Practice, you feel like you’ve maximized that meaningful story of yours out—and there’s nothing left for you to do—then you’ve most likely:
I hope you feel fulfilled AF, because The Practice acts as a checks-and-balances system.
You’ve been served PROOF that you’re living with integrity for this particular storyline.
– One lingering question I could ask in Connection: I wonder how my mom felt all those years when I was outside being a monkey in the trees? Did she ever get nervous? I wonder what my parents’ and my sister’s memories of me up in those trees are?
Answer the question: How can I use this story to create future meaningful moments?
In terms of using this story for perpetual meaningful moments, I can’t return to this sacred spot. So what can I do?
– If the tree were still standing and the yard was still my parent’s, I would’ve returned to it long ago. I would’ve shown the kids how to climb that old tree like I did. Maybe they’d love it too, maybe not. None of that is in the cards for this story.
– Instead, I could find a random apple tree, climb up there with my bucket of things to do (+ snacks), and lose myself for an afternoon. Yeah… no.
That’s inauthentic and manufactured.
But the FEELING I had up in that old tree? That’s something I can cultivate long into my future.
Though at the time of discovering this missing puzzle piece, I wasn’t feeling it. It was missing and the void was felt to my core. Something needed to change… and I used this tiny story as a guide for real action.
It took serious conversations with my husband, a little courage, and it was worth it! We *quickly* made some radical changes from how we were living (more on that here, if you’re curious).
Side note: We were quite impulsive in our actions, because when you pursue this story work, your decisions feel clear and right for you. How? This story work grows your self-awareness and self-trust.
So, today, that perpetual, meaningful feeling (the same one I felt up in that apple tree as a young girl) is infused into my present day. I live it out everyday here on Masse Mountain.
A privilege, I know.
It’s enlivening and hyper-meaningful and completely and totally ME.
– One more, potential future idea for the Cultivation habit… I could plant some apple trees on our land. Or, if it feels right, I could gift my children with a set of apple trees for their property when they buy their own home.
If they start a family, who knows? Maybe those trees (at my house or theirs) will lend their branches and give my grandchildren wild roots too.
That’s a wrap on the “young Marie in the apple trees” story.
Isn’t it incredible how much you can do with what seems like such a tiny story?!
If you’ve been following along with a story of your own, you’re at the point now where you should have a few action ideas (one at most for each habit category: observation, preservation, expression (both pieces), connection, and cultivation). Now, you need to go do those actions and see how wonderful you feel on the other side!
If you’ve followed along and haven’t tried this yet, start using the DGS 5-Part Practice on your own stories. Come back and tell me about all the meaningfulness it adds to your life!
(Believe me, this Practice delivers!)
Hint: meaningfulness = joy, fulfillment, purpose, and a sense of self.
Tell me you don’t want more of that?!
Curious about what you’ll find?
I’ve got you!
⭐️ Work with me and grow into a Dangerously Good Storyteller
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