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Blue Sweater Stories

A knitted blue sweater for a newborn baby.

I’ve written quite a bit about the impact our stories have on our lives, and I’ve focused mainly on those that have weighed us down and kept us stuck. In my Journey program, we talk instead about keeping the lessons and releasing the pain. But there are other stories we want to keep. I call these Blue Sweater Stories.

What are Blue Sweater Stories?

My grandmother Munro loved to knit. There wasn’t a pattern too difficult for her to tackle and I was the one person in the family who loved wearing her creations. When I was in my twenties, I worked as a clerk at Prudential Insurance Company. As my colleagues began their families, baby showers became a weekly occurrence. At my request, my grandmother knitted countless sweaters for my friends.

One day in 1983, I said to her, “You ought to make one for me so I can put it in my hope chest. You know, just in case.”

She laughed at me. “Don’t you worry. I’ll be around to knit plenty of sweaters for your children.”

A few months later, she died from cancer. The speed at which her disease progressed still takes my breath away. Her vibrant, adventurous energy zapped too soon. Of course, I’d forgotten all about my off-hand comment about the sweater.

Several months after her funeral, I was cleaning out my grandmother’s closet. Tucked up in the far right corner, underneath a few boxes, was a blue baby sweater. It had a smocked design with miniature owls with teeny buttons for eyes. Pinned to the front was a note. It said, “Just in case.”

You might image the breakdown, the outpouring of grief, knowing my children would never meet the woman who meant so much to me. I packed the sweater away. Fourteen years passed. Then, in 1998, I became a mom to a little boy. Seventeen months later, another son arrived. Both sons wore that blue sweater.

Connection Through Stories

My sons never got to meet my grandmother. It’s through the stories I’ve shared about her that she lives for them. They both know the story of the sweater. They know which pieces of my furniture were hers, and which they will each inherit.

My youngest son’s middle name is Munro and he, in particular, feels a strong affinity to my grandmother. When he was in third grade, his teacher—a marvelous woman named Patricia Nugent—selected him around his birthday to be the “student of the week.” She asked me to send in a letter for her share with Jack’s class. I wrote about the blue sweater and, to this day, whenever it’s Jack’s birthday, she reaches out to remind me what an impact that story had on her.

Keeping Stories Alive

It’s in the telling of what I called Blue Sweater Stories that we share our most impactful experiences, and keep people alive. These are the kinds of stories that uplift and connect, and that’s why I feel it’s crucial to keep them—and, more importantly, share them.

But how do you know which stories to keep and which to discard? What I tell my students is if the story keeps you tethered or stuck in the past, release it, keeping only what serves you today. If it’s a story that inspires and uplifts you, hold onto it and cherish it!

If you’d like to unload the stories weighing you down and move freely through your life with ease and joy, let’s chat!