Stories Within & Between Us

At the commencement of this term, as a staff, we had the pleasure & privilege of hearing from one of our favourite friends of Woodleigh, Dr. Arne Rubenstein. Some of you will know Arne from his Parent Education presentation at the beginning of 2019. Others will know of his work with his organisation, The Rites of Passage Institute. Through his books and around the fire, conversations from the first lockdown period beamed zoom from his property in the Byron Bay Hinterland.

With the intention of mindful reflection and in the spirit of building resilience, we heard from Arne about ways of strengthening the context of wellbeing for our community. Arne provided a bespoke framework to guide us gently into term 4, with the mindset of, whatever comes next, let's do it well, and let's do it together. 

It is the theme of Stories that we begin: 

Stories Within Us & Between Us. 

Stories and storytelling provide us with the resilient capacity to pick ourselves up, be adaptive, change, and pivot when we have fallen. The typical narrative structure of a story is to have a beginning, middle & and end. In the middle stage, there is the transformative moment of the story that we often need to work through, with help & alone, to transition to the next step or space.

While we are all sharing the world's lived experience under siege of the coronavirus, lockdowns, remote learning, and returning to school, every person's story of this will be unique. There are many similarities and differences within the context of this story that flows between us. However, the words of this time within us are ours to own and share if we choose to. In sharing our stories, we search for [shared] meaning in these "unprecedented times."

There are remarkable stories of paradoxical strengths in action, grief & gratitude, sadness & humour, courage & vulnerability, life & death, selfishness & selflessness, diversity & inclusion, kindness & cruelty, hope & despair, science & fiction, and so on.

In my professional role as a counsellor, I have the absolute privilege of sharing space with people every day; to listen to their stories, to witness & validate their feelings, thoughts & concerns. Then reflect that back to them with a different lens or perspective when appropriate to assist in inviting, developing, and strengthening different perspectives. And hopefully, this is deemed to be helpful. These are the stories between us.

As a parent, the role is similar but different. Sometimes it is harder to listen when our children need to be heard. They don't need us to judge, criticize, or rush in to "fix" the narrative. They need us to listen with intent, to be present and feel connected. Regardless of what role we are in, we share our stories that we can make meaning for ourselves and help others know and understand our perspectives, which may also resonate with them more in-depth. 

By sharing our stories, we can (re)build connections when we feel disconnected and unite communities when they have felt isolated. Everyone has their own story; we are our own life's author. In 2020, life may not have gone as planned or as hoped. We have moved forward, backward & sideways, but it is not the events of 2020 that will define us moving forward, but how we chose to respond and how we can find meaning through the sharing of the stories within us & between us.

In his address, Arne Rubenstein shared the framework of a G.O.L.D.E.N. check-in as a method of sharing our stories. The questions provide opportunities for meaningful reflection by their nature and sequence. Try this for yourselves, within your families. Take turns to ask & respond to these questions and most of all, remember to listen.

For those of you who haven't met or heard Dr. Arne Rubenstein yet, please register to join our 

Parent Education session this Monday, 19 October, via zoom @ 7 pm.

Director of Counselling 

Further reading & articles of interest: