Our Days Are Built With Stories

As many of you get ready to embark on Week In The Life™, I want you to think about this statement:

Our days are built with stories. 

Often when I begin documenting my week I'm hyperfocused on writing down the schedule of our day. Stuff like the times we get up, the times we eat, the time I leave the house to take the kids to school and the time I return home to sit at my desk.

I still plan to do that to some extent this year, but as I alluded to in my post earlier this week, I also really want to be conscious and intentional about the micro-stories that make up a day or seven in a row (remember that was a term Aaron first used wwith me when he was talking about what he wanted to remember from our Dave Matthews adventure).

Each of our daily actions is often just the tip of a story pyramid. Those of you who took my Hello Story class are familiar with the concept I focus on in that workshop which is simply this, "tell me more."

Tell me more about the why. Tell me more about the who and the where and the what. Don't just tell me you had a cup of coffee, tell me what you had in it or what you left out. Give me more details that will paint a clearer picture of the life you are living right now.

And then give a little more.

Consider these stories:

The story of why you wake up to an alarm on your iphone at 5:45am each morning. The story of why you wake up at different times each day, rarely following a set routine. The story of how your child runs into your bedroom regularly (at least for the last week) in the middle of the night for comfort from the fierce monsters in the dark.

The story of how your 12 year old now makes his own breakfast each morning but you still pour cereal (dry with no milk most days) for your 5 year old.

The story of why you drive each kid separatlely to school in the morning and how you treasure the time in between drop-offs when you get to select the noise in the car (NPR, please).

The story of why you don't exercise. The story of why you do and how that fits into your day. The story of how you think about it every day but still don't choose to put yourself first.

The story of how you take your coffee and how you hate those little disposable plastc cups in your single-serve coffee maker but how you love a hot cup each and every time.

The story of the moments of longing you feel at random points throughout the day. For something different, for something complete, for something you once had (or think you did).

The story of the moments of gratitude that pull you out of the mental funk - where you literally shake your head as a means of erasing the mental spiral.

The story of how you walk into your office building each day and are, like clockwork, greeted by the same older gentlemen who looks you in the eye and smiles or who barely acknowledges your existence.

The story of why you often skip lunch or why you eat the same thing at the same time each and every day.

The story of the things on your desk. Bills to be paid. Invoices to be filed. Hand-drawn ideas to be added to the bigger list. Lists piled on other lists, some things crossed off with a thick black pen, others with a thin red marker, but many simply waiting.

The story of your commute. In the car. On the bus. On the train. Is it long or short or beautiful or do you wish it away for some other life?

The story of the things you are working on - work stuff, life stuff. What's rattling around in your brain during these seven days in your life? What is consuming you? What do you wish you were consumed with?

The story of how you walked past a family in the grocery store, smiled at the Mom as she wrangled a toddler into the cart, and wondered what their lives were like.

The story of what you are reading. The story of what you are watching. The story of how you have so very little time for either. The story of how Candy Crush is your saving grace after a long day of stress and arguments and discomfort.

The story of waiting for your oldest child in the parking lot of the middle school and saying a silent prayer for a report of a good day, a happy smile, a sparkle in his eyes, a conversation - however brief or rote.

The story of homework, or the lack of, and a comparison to your experience growing up.

The story of how multiple times throughout the day you quickly contemplate dinner options but never settle on anything specific until the kids are past the point of needing to be fed and how you decide that popcorn, cheddar chesse and apples is always a very good idea.

The story of how your daughter recounts her kindergarten day in all it's glory and how the cast of characters seems to multiply exponentially as each day goes by.

The story of the hilarious amounts of junk mail you receive and how it's a sign of the times we live in.

The story of how your cat plops down on the hardwood floor after a long day adventuring around the neighborhood and meows until you rub his belly.

The story of why you chose one path instead of another on your evening walk becuase you know one includes more flowers.

The story of what's in your refridgerator and how you feel about it. Do you care a lot about what you eat or a little? Do you plan all your meals in advance or fly by from moment to moment? Is there very litttle in there because you regularly eat out? What's your favorite snack to reach for right now and why. Tell me more.

The story of your lonliness.

The story of your exuberant joy.

The story of your current fears and how on particularly bad days you imagine you are the only person on the planet with these fears and on particularly good days you know they ebb and flow and you'll work through them just like most other people do.

The story of the movie of the day, carefully selected via a negoation betweeen the 5 year old and the 12 year old.

The story of how you drink decaf tea with a touch of milk at the kitchen table after the rest of the family has gone to bed and how you give thanks for the real life you lived today.

What stories will you tell next week? 

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93 thoughts

  1. arinoel says…
    10/24/2014

    I find that during projects like this when I start to think about the stories, I find the areas of my life where I'm NOT being intentional and I can change it up. It gives me a good space to reflect on what I love about my life, and what might not be working so well--why I do things the way I do and is it still appropriate to do them that way? What can I change about my day-to-day that makes my life a little bit happier? As always, thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      10/24/2014

      Exactly one of the reasons I continue to do this project.

  2. Michelef4 says…
    10/24/2014

    I am so excited to try this, with the kit, for
    the first time!

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. papergoddess says…
    10/24/2014

    I am going to try! For the first time! I am letting go of the presentation part and just focusing on the photos and journaling. Probably the journaling more than anything. I want to tell the stories. I may actually start tomorrow and go into the following weekend too. I am just gonna stick to a clean digital version to make it simple.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Rosamia says…
    10/24/2014

    AWESOME post Ali! I was debating whether I had the time to remember doing this project and have been in the fence about jumping in. I've decided to just. Do. It. Thank you! Our stories, as trivial and boring as they may seem, are still the stories of what makes up our lives.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Shannon_Primicerio says…
    10/24/2014

    This post brought tears to my eyes. So much good stuff. I think I am going to re-read it every morning next week to help me set my focus. Last year (my first year doing WITL) I got very caught up in trying to keep a perfect timeline. This year I want to focus on the stories.

    Thank you. You are such an inspiration.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. angievcrafts says…
    10/24/2014

    What a great post!!! I love it! I have been on the fence about participating but this really just pushed me over the edge to at least do the documentation part. I may not end up with a whole album but the pictures and stories will be down in some form.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. pierek14 says…
    10/24/2014

    Thanks for such a wonderful gift of inspiration for next week. I am looking forward to my first week in the life. I am on vacation next week and getting ready for an adult Halloween party so I feel that this will be a great week in the life. I hope so anyway. Thanks Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. krystyn says…
    10/24/2014

    I love this post!! I need to save it to my phone so I have it there as a reminder next week. I'm also glad I came over to your blog searching because the last 2 blog posts have yet to update to Feedly. :( Thanks Ali!! Can't wait to get started on WITL!!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. meldarcy says…
    10/24/2014

    Oh My goodness Ali!!! Thank you so much for the inspiration!!! With my last children being in a beautiful transition phase (18 months old and just starting to do new things) I am in such a season of trying to soak up each moment and this post has prompted me to use more QR codes to record the morning routines, the giggles from 2 18 month old little girls from behind their bedroom door in the morning as they get up to mischief in there, followed by the banging to let me know they're up and ready to come out, the little games that they play with Daddy and the beautiful twin bond that they have, as well as the protection that their big brother lends them at the park when the bigger kids cramp their space!! All the things that a photo just can never do justice to!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. sheilamonteiro says…
    10/25/2014

    Oh yeah, Ali Edwards =)

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. leslierae says…
    10/25/2014

    why did I just tear up reading that??
    off to tell more.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. queenbeeofscrap says…
    10/25/2014

    One of those most inspiring blog posts I've read in awhile. Thank you.

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. silviamdv says…
    10/26/2014

    Oh wow, I love this concept of micro stories.
    Especially because I've been noticing that I document things, but I never seem to touch more than the surface.
    Noting what I've done, when I did it etc. But never go deeper.
    Never answer the why.
    I really want to change this. So thank you Ali, for the inspiration!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. PolkaDotCreative says…
    10/26/2014

    Yes master :) xxxxx

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. StephWJ says…
    10/26/2014

    I was really feeling a bit overwhelmed about doing a Week in the Life this week, because I have so much going on already. But my plan is to take the photos and do the writing this week, and put it together later when I have more time. Maybe the *fact* of being so busy is something to document in itself, thanks for the inspiration, Ali! This will be my second year doing Week in the Life.

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. pmmessner says…
    10/26/2014

    l o v E

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. christinew1112 says…
    10/26/2014

    Love the way you inspire

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. marysara says…
    10/26/2014

    Wow...lots to think about and I love this. Thank you for sharing, inspiring and encouraging others.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. donna_is_sunshine says…
    10/27/2014

    Reading this as I prepare for WITL tomorrow....You are awesome, Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. desilei says…
    10/27/2014

    Is there a way to mark posts as favorites, because this one would be on my list!!! I finished WITL yesterday and this morning I woke up as if something was missing. My daughter (2 years old) even asked me where my camera was because she had grown used to it being on the bathroom counter every morning while I brushed her teeth and did her hair. It was my first time doing WITL and I have been changed for the better by this process! I realized this as I drove home silently, with my thoughts, and took the time to notice the changing leaves after dropping off the kids at school. I am a huge fan and I know I will cherish this album with stories and picture for the rest of my life. Thanks Ali! --Desiree

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      10/28/2014

      Thank you!

  21. michellev1969 says…
    10/27/2014

    My WITL adventure will actually happen next month. I am going to be moving from rural central New York to a very urban Newark, New Jersey. I am having some major stress issues. So...when I saw the posts on FB about WITL, I thought that it would be a perfect way to say farewell to my home and "Hello, here we are!" to our new home. Reading these posts and comments is really helping me plan how to attack this very anxiety-riddled time in my life. Thanks Ali! Thanks to her followers! You guys are great!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      10/28/2014

      Love that. Wishing you all the best.

  22. Binxcat1 says…
    10/28/2014

    You gave me goosebumps... as I thought about ALL these stories I have in my head... then I read:

    "The story of how Candy Crush is your saving grace after a long day of stress and arguments and discomfort."

    and I LITERALLY laughed out loud.

    It's NOT just me right? ;)

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. AliEdwards says…
      10/28/2014

      Oh it's me. Ha.

    2. Binxcat1 says…
      03/01/2016

      It's Alphabetty for me this year.

  23. joblackford says…
    10/29/2014

    This is the bit that's missing in mine I think. So far I've gotten some pictures and lots of detail about the things I'm doing, but I'm going to try to add in more depth with stories like this. Like how I feel about the hour or two that I can't account for - how "checking Facebook" after lunch leads me to look up at 3 and wonder if/how I wasted another day!

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. heyjennyc says…
    10/30/2014

    Trying to find your post about not giving up. If you didn't take any pictures on Monday, start Tuesday..etc.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. AliEdwards says…
      10/30/2014

      Hi - I included some talk about that today here: https://aliedwards.com/2014/10/week-in-the-life-2014-wednesday-words-photos

  25. hgauvin says…
    08/09/2015

    Thought provoking - thanks!

    Reply 0 Replies

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