“Your Words Matter” by Danielle Daniel

Stories have always fascinated me.  True stories and untrue stories too.  The untrue stories helped me through the times in my life where I wanted to forget my own true story, the one that was too painful to sit in at the time.  Since then, I have continued to be spellbound by carefully threaded stories.

Oral stories have also been part of my tapestry.  My sweet Mémère never learned to read.  And I have known and understood from a very young age the importance of stories shared orally.  These tales of truth have always been so dear to my heart.  I have felt a responsibility to listen carefully to her stories and tuck them safely inside me.  She deserves to have someone listen and treasure her truths.  I cannot imagine not being able to express myself using the written word.  I feel like I would have died a thousand times of heartbreak without this ability.

Our stories are as diverse as the faces on the planet, yet they connect us all.  Because as different as the storyline may be, the themes are quite similar.  I can honestly say there are some stories I wish I did not have to own as my own.   There are those stories I have shared, those I continue to make sense of and those that still remain buried under layers of fear, sadness and pain.  All of these stories influence the way I see the world and more than ever they influence the ways in which I want to make a difference.

The older I get, the more I realize that everyone has a rich inventory of stories sitting within their hearts.  All of us could share tales of heartbreak and triumph within our own family tree.  I have come to understand the importance of sharing these stories.  I have learned that by writing them and telling them, I am also setting them free from my heart and my body.  My mentor Beverly Hawksley tells me that “we have a social responsibility to share our stories”.  As artists, writers, mothers, and teachers, we need to reveal these narratives in a way that will empower us and help us move on.  By sharing them we help others along their journey.  And, we also make room for new stories.

I often say that my artwork is inspired by unwritten stories. Those sitting on the page and those that are waiting to be excavated, layer by layer, word by word and one painting at a time.   This is how I choose to tell my stories but there are other ways to do this.  Maybe you are a songwriter, a musician, a children’s author, an illustrator, a chef, a gardener, a sculptor, a mechanic, a poet, a director or a gypsy.  Maybe you haven’t shared your stories yet or you don’t know which method is best for you.

Maybe today will be the day you peel back a layer and go there.  Maybe not.  Maybe today you will open up to the possibility of sharing one of your stories with someone you trust.  I do hope to set my stories free.  Every single one.  I would love to hear how you share your stories with the world.