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Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Speak Out!: The Power of the Story

by Sioux Roslawski

Why do we write what we do? Who is our audience? And the most important question, the most heartfelt one (and the one that is usually unspoken): Will our writing matter to anyone—does anybody really care? *

I got an answer to that last question recently. And the petite, curly-haired woman who delivered the answer changed my life with just a few soft-spoken words.

Just before Mother's Day, I was honored to celebrate the holiday by sharing my story—my birth mother's story—on a stage. It was the Listen to Your Mother St. Louis show. I had written a piece to submit, had gotten it critiqued, sent it in, auditioned, was chosen, rehearsed, had bonded with the other women, and had now performed for the second show of the day. The rollercoaster day—all highs and thrilling turns—was over. Or so I thought...

I was in an out-of-the-way spot, by the bathrooms, saying goodbye to my half-sister and my daughter and granddaughter. A woman—the petite and pretty one I mentioned earlier—walked up to me. The words seemed to tumble out.

“I enjoyed your story. I'm an adoptee too, and I know who my birth mother is, but she won't admit it.” We spoke for a while. I had already shared a little slice of my life (and bared my soul) in front of the microphone, so all I needed to do now was listen. It was like the two of us were having an intimate conversation, and I had started the dialogue when I was onstage. Now, it was her turn to reply.

Okay, perhaps I won't ever write a best-selling book that will snag rave reviews. Perhaps my little memoir stories won't make me an internationally-known writer. Most likely, I won't ever get rich writing. But my words do matter. My sister was glad our mother's story was finally told. My daughter was proud that that particular part of my history was shared in such a public way. And my telling my story spurred this woman to perhaps tell her own story some day.

Her story. I was prodding her to have the courage to share her unique-to-her story someday soon. Because that is of course how we parted. I reiterated that it was her birth mother's loss—she was losing out because she refuses to let her daughter into her life.(That was one of the first things that came out of my mouth—uncensored—after this lovely woman introduced herself.)

And then I said, “And you have a story to tell. Think about it. Think about submitting your story next year.”

Who knows who will be affected by the words we put down on paper? Who knows what spark will be ignited by our lines? But we'll never find out if we don't have the courage to write...

* I had to give a little nod to the band Chicago, in their early (and great) days, when they were brass-heavy.

* * *
Sioux Roslawski is a third grade teacher by day and by night (and on the weekends) she writes stories to send to Chicken Soup for the Soul and other anthologies. She also rescues dogs for Love a Golden, which results in constant dog hair in her car. More of Sioux's writing can be found on her blog—

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



  1. What a wonderful message! Good writing is always about making connections.

  2. First I have to laugh at the Chicago brass-heavy comment! And congrats on performing in LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER! AND what an awesome experience. That is so special that you touched that woman's life in such a special way. I bet neither one of you will ever forget it!

  3. Glad two women could share a personal moment...and all because you lines were the catalyst. How nice!!!

  4. Well, this is all very full circle, because WOW helped me find my own voice as a writer, which in turn gave me the cajones to start LTYM.

    Thank you for sharing this powerful "Me too" moment. That's what LTYM is all about!

  5. How gracefully you have shown that words really do matter and our stories can touch the lives of others.

  6. Tammy--Thanks. You're right. The connections we make is an added plus...

    Margo--Are you saying you preferred the long, never-ending "elevator muzak" syrupy period that came after the brassy period? (Shudder.)

    No, I won't forget her, and I hope she writes down HER story.

    Claudia--It WAS great meeting her. It's such a sad story; I think she should be able to move further forward if she told her story...

    Ann--Thanks for LTYM. It was a life-changing moment for a friend last year, and this year I got to bask in the experience. (And now I'm a follower of yours...)

    Donna--"Graceful" is not an adjective that is EVER used to describe anything I do. Thanks. ;)

  7. Yes, writing matters. YOU matter. Congrats on getting your story out, and touching other people's lives. Who knows how many you affected? The one who spoke to you was most likely just the tip of the iceberg.

  8. You are an inspiration, Sioux! I hope one day the words I write will touch the lives of others as well. Kudos on such a wonderful experience.

  9. Val--I wouldn't go THAT far...I don't think I'm capable of bringing down Leonardo DiCaprio and almost Kate Winslet, but thanks.

    Renee--Thank you, but I am inspired by you and Margo and Sue and Cathy and Robyn and Val and Tammy and Lynn and Linda and Donna and Pat and Jean and Beth and ...well, you get the idea. Your words DO touch others.

  10. Sioux, You are such a wonderful writer and I'm so thrilled that you were a huge part of LTYM-St.Louis 2014. You have such empathy and wit in your writing, and that's why people feel such a kindred spirit to you. Congratulations and I can't wait to see what is next... Much Love, Laura

  11. I love this, Sioux. It's such a wonderful example of just how powerful words are, how the gift of story connects us, each to the other. I'm so glad you had this experience, and that you chose to share it. Thank you so much for such a moving piece!

  12. Laura--Your story made me snort out loud (laughing) just like your story from 2013 did. Thanks for doing such a fabulous job with the LTYM show. You three are amazing.

  13. Theresa--Thanks. As a writer, you know firsthand how connected we can be through words.

  14. Your story had a long reach as evidenced by the woman who stopped to chat and my husband who thought yours was the most heartfelt and moving. Congratulations again.

  15. It's always scary to tell heartfelt, personal stories and you are so right, it DOES matter as we never know who we might be helping in some way. YAY for YOU!

  16. Linda--Thanks. However, I think Bill's praise was due to the guilt he felt over what he WANTED to do during my reading, but didn't.

    Lynn--The scary ones are the ones that matter. You are also a writer who is not afraid to bare your soul. Thanks for being such a great writing friend.

  17. It was such a nice surprise to find this post on FB this morning and meet this lovely lady and the power her words had to bring connection. Being part of LTYM in OKC this year was very moving and it is so nice to meet other adoptees and people who are touched by adoption. It is not easy being so vulnerable and it is wonderful when good things come out of the experience.

  18. Anonymous6:32 AM

    Sioux, This gives me goosebumps! This story is such a powerful testimony for the ripple effects of LTYM. And what a gift of love you gave to that woman, first by telling your story and then by listening to hers. Lovely! (Looking forward to seeing you this evening!)

    Ann B.


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