Running through an Illinois country pasture every summer, my cousins and I would chase flittering butterflies as they glided just out of our leaping reach.

Crimson fading to auburn and hues of gold separated by distinct black lines. Our grandma taught us to call them Monarchs.

Unique. Bold. Free. Subjects of time passing. Symbols of childlike whimsy.

Swoop went the net. Catch, then carefully transfer to a mason jar. Faced with a choice to keep or release. To keep meant to place the butterfly in a glass picture frame, a permanent, but stagnant reminder of a childhood memory.

I preferred the second option. Release to watch the butterfly float gracefully into the distance. Beauty to be shared for the eyes of another curious child.

Stories remind me of these butterflies. Unique. Bold. Free.

Sharing stories requires a conscious choice. Often we choose to hold our stories tightly placing them in photo frames as cherished distant memories.

But there’s another option.  What if I have the courage to boldly release them for others to enjoy?

As life moves on, stories continue to be collected and created along the journey. Refining and defining, a reality of life lived and a life begging to be lived.

When I choose to share these stories I notice something curious. Doing so moves my connection with others out of my head and into a heart eager to enjoy the beauty of the story being told. Genuine care, laughter, joy, a deeper connection all sparked from a simple story. Exactly how the story connected might not always be clear, but without fail stories have the ability to move others in a way that ignites passion and restores the deep connection we’re all seeking to find.

I invite you to grab your net to capture and release your stories in a way that motivates others to have the courage to do the same.

Join us, May 19, for a storytelling workshop aimed to increase your capacity to compellingly release the stories you’ve lived and imagine the stories you’re hopeful to create as life continues to move onward.

I can’t help but believe the result of the release would be beautiful.

Amy Nichols

Amy Nichols is a communications associate at the Kansas Leadership Center.