Daring to Share is a movement that transpired 3 years ago from a belief I had that
“One uncomfortable conversation creates ten years of wisdom.”
There was something deep inside of me that kept daring me to share the stories of truth most are afraid to mention and that we all experience in one way or another. My own story was yearning to be released and I knew that sharing it would impower others to feel more connected and lead life from a place of increased acceptance and inclusivity knowing they were not alone.
In September 2016, I began writing a collection of stories shared through meaningful conversations I had with individuals I met within my day to day living. Never could I have imagined the magnitude of impact these stories would have on the community I lived in and then as time passed, on an international level while Daring to Share evolved further. I was privileged to experience lifechanging connections through conversations I had with potential writers.
Looking back, I am still in awe at the organic way the act of sharing one’s truth evolved into a series of books, then community storytelling events and, ultimately, a movement of social activism inspiring a heightened level of inclusion through the act of human advocacy that comes from taking the time to listen to someone.
Meeting Scott De Freitas-Graff and his husband, John De Freitas in January 2017 was a pivotal moment within the evolution of DTS as they became the push behind the in-person storytelling events. They understood and supported the unique Daring to Share way of sharing a story in the written word that solely advocated human connection through inspiration and adamantly denied any other motive such as business or self-promotion, because we knew that would take away from the intent to inspire. They encouraged me to offer a safe in-person space for our community to share their stories in front of an audience.
With Scott and John on board, we had a DTS team, and while I collaborated with 8 authors writing and editing their stories, Scott implemented Daring to Share: The Event by bringing members of our community together to share stories in local restaurants at storytelling events – we filled the room every time and added a few additional events like Daring to be Queer and Daring to Share Gratitude. We also chose to include a giving back component by supporting others including one particular family who needed financial support after losing their son in a tragic car accident. John stepped into the role of executive assistant and became our greatest cheerleader.
My heart was full as my intention to hold space for others to share their stories expanded to the most real and raw way there is - through in-person face to face connection, something our society is yearning for while desperately clinging to threads of emotional wellness.
The impact of these community storytelling events was beyond moving as people resonated with whole and parts of stories being shared, and we literally felt the emotional energy of real and raw connection in the room. Not only was it incredibly powerful, but it was highly contagious. I've always known just how necessary listening along with sharing our stories is, in order to create a deeper understanding of one another, but I suddenly had an acute clarity of how Daring to Share was about to influence a societal shift from conditional judgement to unconditional acceptance.
The first book, Daring to Share: 8 Brave Souls, Volume 1 was
launched at Cuckoo Trattoria in Coombs, Vancouver Island at a storytelling book launch event in October 2017 and then in Kelowna BC in November of that same year. We reached the Amazon Top 10 Best Seller List in the category of Personal Transformation in a day!! I self-funded this and subsequent publications through Influence Publishing and we chose Anxiety Canada for the fundraising portion of our first book launch events because we recognized that the feeling of disconnection go hand in hand with anxiety and depression.
It was at the Kelowna book launch when I received an extremely purposeful opportunity to publish a second book after meeting Philippa Douglas. Philippa is the fundraising coordinator for Karis Support Society, a recovery centre for women. Karis is a non-profit organization that provides residential addictions recovery programming, counselling and support for women in the Okanagan. The Karis program is available to vulnerable, at-risk expectant women, women with babies or toddlers, women working towards reunification with their children, and single women living in poverty with no dependents. They offer a tiered program in which participants can access up to 5 years of support from first stage recovery all the way to off-site aftercare. The participants are women whose experiences of trauma, abuse, crisis or overwhelming stress have led to substance misuse or mental health challenges, which have negatively impacted their lives and are now actively working on personal recovery. The mandate of Karis is to empower and equip women with skills so they can successfully transition back into society.
Philippa is also the Dream Project coordinator at Karis. Part of transitioning back into society is visualizing a future beyond addiction. Launched in April 2017, the Dream Project facilitates and supports many of the women in their search for self by bringing in inspirational, educational and motivational speakers on topics that interest or inspire them. This includes offering the participants experiential activities which get them out in the community, additional therapeutic supports as well as a peer mentor program with past Karis participants.
Together through the Dream Project, Philippa and I created Daring to Share: Trauma to Recovery - Special Edition 2019 with 6 women in recovery collaborating as our authors, sharing their stories. Within the project, I offered a writing program and our writers became published authors.
Collaborating with these brave and insightful women in recovery for 8 months, introduced me to a more expansive awareness of the degree of disconnection that is created within the stigma affiliated with addiction, mental illness and homelessness. But, even more prevalent, I discovered further, how much sharing one's story creates the self-confidence required to step up and into inclusivity while diminishing exclusivity, as we learn the why behind where each of us has landed. It is when we take the time to understand one another's story that we are able to put our fears aside while being guided by the choice of compassion. Suddenly, we see just how alike we all are and how stigma exists in all walks of life, including those not so blatantly evident and within our own peer groups, work circles, and personal relationships. It is within this awareness that we begin to experience the freeing feeling of inclusivity because we feel more connected to those we previously felt exclusive towards – knowledge is truly powerful.
The authors of this collaborative book taught me just how devastating the consequences of living within stigma and exclusivity is and how much I have experienced it myself. They reiterated how impactful societal perception, positive or negative can be, when it comes to feeling either connected or disconnected through the misunderstanding of others. Working with these authors was one of the most impactful experiences I have ever moved through. Never before have I had the power of self-discovery so blatantly change me while spending time absorbing what these women chose to share with me. They held nothing back and with every step within the process they discovered more about themselves. They became more courageous and self-confident to share their stories of Trauma to Recovery with their only intention being to impact others through inspirations of hope by speaking their truth.
I could never have completed this project without the support of Philippa Douglas; she was all in, all the way through!! Our book launched at a live storytelling event at Karis Support Society on September 21, 2019 and we, once again, reached the Amazon Top 10 Best Seller List, this time in 3 categories; Biographies, Spirituality, and Personal Transformation. The authors were brilliant as they articulated their stories in front of an audience of over 75 while sitting on a bar stool with nothing but a glass of water on a table beside them. They were fiercely brave, but what truly amazed me was how their self-confidence had grown since the first time they shared their stories in the Karis classroom. Just as our initial DTS community events did, the room exuded an energy reiterating the epiphany that we are all more alike than not - acute connection was created through the art of the reciprocation of sharing and listening to a story. Daring to Share Global is honoured to donate partial proceeds of this book to Karis Support Society; Dream Project in perpetuity.
The third book in this trilogy, Daring to Share: Deception to Truth will be launched on November 7, 2019. We chose to take this project to a higher level of social activism by consciously sharing it all and not holding anything back. We want to inspire connection no matter how difficult it is to write or speak the entire truth because we have witnessed and experienced how life saving it is when we live in line with our truth, and how equally damaging living in deception is as it slowly moves us toward a tortuous emotional and spiritual demise.
The authors in this third book come from all over Canada and bravely share an array of topics in this 10-story compilation. This event will include a fundraising component with proceeds going to Glioblastoma (an aggressive brain cancer) research in honour of a member of the community who recently passed away.
With gratitude, as I sit reflecting on the last 3 years, I realize just how much of a difference one conversation with a friend or stranger can make. Scott and John and I created a movement inspired by what we knew would change lives and needed to be shared. Philippa stepped up and supported the Daring to Share Dream Project going above and beyond anything I anticipated someone would be willing to do.
And every author in each of these books, chose to share their story to the world only because they believed their story might inspire just one person.
CONNECTING HUMANITY THROUGH THE ART OF STORYTELLING
These stories of recovery take you from a place of awe and heartbreak to grit and resilience. They inspire you to take action in your life, no matter what is going on for you, to be a better person. Those that dared to share did so with grace, humour, and great self-reflection.
As tears streamed down my face, I found myself lost in the stories as they moved from darkness to light. You can find real seeds of inspiration and by just reading one story,
you could bloom to a greater perspective in your own life.
~ Tamara McLellan, Humanitarian | Wild Breath, Kelowna British Columbia