One of my favourite EVER pieces of art (5 mins long)

A Youtube screenshot of Christa Couture and bekky o'neil's movie How To Lose Everything: A Field Guide. An illustration of two women kneeling

“This is what I know – first your heart will break…

You will start by staying in bed. Being awake is the first and hardest thing to get through. You may ache every minute of the hours in between the relief of sleep. The ache will overwhelm you at times. The ache will press on your chest so hard it will be difficult to move. The ache will shake through your body in uncontrollable sobs. The ache will numb you to all feeling. The ache will want to break things. The ache won’t care what does break.

Try to wait.”

If you can read these words instead of seeing a picture, it's because you haven't clicked "Display images" above.

The first time I read those words, in early 2020, I was in my home office, tears streaming down my face.

That quote is the opening of the final part of the final chapter of How To Lose Everything by Christa Couture — writer, musician, broadcaster and, co-incidentally, my co-parent (which is how I got to read such an early copy). The rest of her book is a memoir, each chapter about a loss she experienced (cancer; amputation; abortion; death; death; divorce; more cancer — she’s had a few). She is a INCREDIBLE storyteller; she has this gift of being able to show you these really, really hard things, in a way that doesn’t pull you under. One of the reviews of her book talked about how the reviewer didn’t want to read the book at first — too sad. But when they did, they found that it “is actually uplifting.”

The part I want to tell you about today — the part that starts with that passage above — is not the part where she’s telling stories.

right now, your not having clicked display images is denying you a picture of BOOBIES

That might seem like a strange choice, given that I’m supposed to be writing here about how to tell stories. But it’s because this passage — on the page, and on the astonishingly beautiful animation that has just been released on YouTube — does the MOST IMPORTANT thing that our stories do. The thing that I think about every time I even talk about this passage (and, inevitably, cry).

It says, to the right people, the four most powerful words in the English language:

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

When we feel like we’re not alone, it means we feel like we belong. And we crave belonging more than anything else — more than happiness! In our brain, belonging sets off dopamine (happiness), serotonin (calm) and oxytocin (bonding and trust). And storytelling has the power to make us feel this way in seconds.

Even better, to make people feel that way, your story doesn’t have to even be heavy! You can tell a story about a silly thing you did (I’ve literally built an entire Facebook community on this concept). You have the opportunity to do this pretty much every time you tell a story.

Which means, every time you tell a story, you have the opportunity to give people the thing they crave most in the entire world.

Please click display images to see THREE pictures now!

Grief can be DEEPLY lonely. Every time I watch Christa Couture and bekky O’Neil’s animation (or honestly, even THINK about the passage it’s based on), I immediately imagine her words being heard by somebody who is in that profoundly lonely part of grief. I imagine what a relief it must be to hear them. And I cry.

This animation is the opener to How To Lose Everything, a five-part series Christa made in association with CBC Arts (non-Canadians: this is our BBC). The other four each pair an Indigenous writer with an Indigenous artist for a short animated movie about loss. Each is less than five minutes long. Each is different — and they’re all stunning. The pics I’ve sprinkled throughout this writing come from Christa and bekky’s movie, How To Lose Everything: A Field Guide. The others are being released on Youtube, one a week — right now, you can also see Archer Pechawis’ story about his mom being abducted by rabid bears and converted to fundamentalist Christianity, called A Bear Named Jesus (with ABSURDLY charming stop-motion animation by Terril Calder), and Heart Like A Pow Wow, an animation by Chief Ladybird (THE Chief Ladybird!!!), using and based on Tara Williamson’s beautiful poetry prose.

Back in October 2021, when I first saw Christa and bekky’s movie, I knew I couldn’t WAIT to share it with you. It’s honestly one of my favourite pieces of art that’s ever been made. At first, it was only available in Canada, so I held off (because the Yes Yes Family is an INTERNATIONAL ONE!).

I’m delighted to tell you that everyone can now watch this short (5min) movie — and you really should! — here:

 Thank you so much for reading — and for watching if you watched! If you did, please let me know what you thought in the comments below. And/or, even better, leave a comment directly on the YouTube video!

You rule,

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS Want even more tips and advice on how to tell compelling stories, plus stories and secrets I won’t put on the internet AND my free guide for the magic bullet for how to tell any story powerfully? Then come over and join the Yes Yes Family by popping your details in below*:

*you can unsubscribe whenever you like because, clearly, I am not the boss of you

PPS feeling like you want to insert some stories into your next keynote or presentation and want some help? Or work at an organization where you’d like to bring me in? I’d love that! Book in a free, no obligation call here: 

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field