“As I sat on the railroad tracks in despair, ready to die, my dog nudged me and compelled me off the tracks, in that one moment of clarity, my love for him gave me hope for the first time in 36 years that I could love myself that much.”

 Cheryl Graves

Centerville, UT

Congratulations to Cheryl Graves of Centerville, Utah, the $1,000 award-winner of our first-sentence story contest!

However, the real winner was…drumroll…me. All contestants bolstered my belief in the power we each have to tell our life stories, first to ourselves and then, as appropriate, to others. I’m amazed at the courage shown in every sentence I read. In our willingness to understand and accept the people we are becoming, we make our lives more joyous, courageous and meaningful – stories worth telling.

 Perhaps I have struggled more than many of you with fear and self-doubt. In years past, I hid from problems, sometimes literally behind trees or in closets, other times behind lies and pretense. 

Thankfully, early on I had friends, family and gifted professionals around me. And when I heard the stories, the challenges, others had overcome, it gave me the grit and the will to move forward in a positive, often awkward, way. I began to better define and display the good that was within me.

 Of course, we all have a worthy story within us. At times, we struggle. Often, it is easy to distort the truth, to get discouraged and seek refuge by blaming others. Life is not always fair. Many people have troubles that are not of their own making. Yet, I believe most solutions come from a place of acceptance, and a willingness to honestly write the first sentence of our story.  

 I’m so proud of all of us.