When it comes down to it what I do here on Touching the Trail, with the podcast and the blog, is tell stories. I like to say that I am a connoisseur of stories, which is why having guests on the podcast is so important to me. Whether I'm hearing tell of a story from someone else or I'm the one living the story I love to be able to tell a good tale. Throughout all of history telling stories has been a vital part of our growth as a world wide culture. Whether it's sitting over the campfire, telling of the day's travels or sitting over our phones posting on social media, telling our story is inherent in our evolution. Opening ourselves up to those around us in honesty creates a deep and meaningful connection.

A few weeks ago, after the Bryce Canyon 100, I sat down with my friend and neighbor to tell him the story of my race. My neighbor, Ted, is an old school ultrarunner who ran ultramarathons when they were just beginning. Ted is a motivation and a guide to me. When I walked over to tell Ted about my race his face lit up upon seeing my belt buckle. We sat outside on a swinging bench, releasing in the shade, while I began regaling him with my tale of 100 miles. We swapped stories of what it's like to run 100 miles. With each up and down I told him about the race he could connect with a very similar situation that happened at one of his races.

The simplicity of sitting amongst trees and talking about adventure is beautifully unique. We chatted for quite awhile, soon his wife Bonnie came home and she even joined in the conversation a little bit. After detailing the race and swapping stories Ted shook my hand, congratulating me on the accomplishment of running 100 miles.

Ted is a storyteller himself, consistently regaling me with tales of his numerous adventures. Recently I sat down with him again to detail his life story for the podcast, listen here! It's truly a conversation for the record books and one that transcends what we think of as possible. 

When you think about it telling stories happens everyday, in every moment. When thinking about it, however, one area that seems to be clearly lacking in our day to day storytelling is dinnertime. What I mean by that is that in our society dinnertime, and really all of our meal times, are times of inattention and distraction. Distraction caused by the obsession we have with the immediate gratification that food and screen give us. When it comes to the meaningful interactions that can happen at mealtime, we are truly missing out. 

One of the key parenting tactics my parents have employed everyday since I was born is to sit down and eat dinner together. Not sit down and eat dinner together in front of a TV or phone screen, but sit down and eat dinner together. We laugh, we eat, we talk, we ask questions, we tell stories of our day, and we engage like a family should. Together.

So many of the kids that I know, my friends throughout my life, have grown up without the act of eating dinner together. Now it may seem like a stupid thing, but having the security of knowing that you can sit down with your family and talk is a vital aspect of growing up. Being able to talk with my family over a good meal everyday provides me with an ability to better understand not only my day, but my entire life.

I know it sounds cliché , but talking about your life helps you to better appreciate and understand it. It's about talking with the people who love you most, about connecting with them. If, as a family, you commit to daily meal times together you will notice a major increase in your ability to work, live, and love together. I think that reaching inside and sharing about more of ourselves on a daily basis is a wonderful way to connect. But, no one is perfect, some days you will miss the dinner together or maybe some days there won't be all that much conversation. The important thing is that you are trying and you are making an effort each day to connect through discussion. It is about consistently putting family first.

Telling stories is a way to put your wellbeing first. You may be wondering why I have been away from the blog for so long, it is mainly because I wanted to feel motivated to write. Up until this week I didn't feel like writing for the blog, it is as simple as that. Now I don't think that that is me having a lack of commitment, instead I think that it is listening to myself. If I can read my body and what it is telling me, then what it was telling me was that writing wasn't that important over the last few weeks. Well, more specifically not writing for the blog, because I have been writing (for magazines). I was also enjoying my summer, focusing on the podcast, and getting new things going.

All in all I think the stories we tell shape the perspective we have and the life we lead. If the stories are lies and discouraging to our motivations, then we will not accomplish what we desire. If we are honest with ourselves and stay positive, then we will overcome every obstacle. Listen to what your body and mind are telling you, they are there.

Gracias.

Jarod Contreras

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