Stephanie Wood Miller - Connection Requested
This week we connect with Stephanie's stories. Check out her LinkedIn profile either before or after listening to this episode.
Data is great, but humans connect with storytelling.
Here’s the caption video and transcript:
Welcome to Connection Requested, the podcast about making better connections with other humans, one guest at a time. I'm your host, Mark Tweddle co-founder of YouTellYours providing online events to create stronger connections in your group, community, or team.
I started this podcast because I rarely know the people who request to connect with me on LinkedIn.
Whether it's Facebook Friends, LinkedIn Connections, or Followers as they're called everywhere else, you know Instagram TikTok, or Twitter, social media doesn't easily provide the kind of meaningful connections that I seek in my life.
This week, we're going to continue my run of people I didn't meet through LinkedIn.
I met this week's storyteller when we were running storytelling classes, way back in 2016.
Let's get started.
Two minutes to tell the story of your name with no preparation.
No one else can tell that story better than you. You are the subject matter expert after all
My name is Stephanie. What I do know about when my, parents named me was that my mom wanted us, both my sister and I to have names that people wouldn't naturally shorten. So she didn't want the name of Catherine or Jennifer or something that people shortened. The name she gave us, She wanted people to use.
And before I was born, the plan was to name me Laura. But shortly before I was born, my mom's best friend had a daughter who she named Lauren, and my mother and her friend, Susie jointly decided that having two kids grow up together that have virtually the same names was not a good idea. So, my mom moved on to other names. I guess my dad didn't really participate in the naming because I'd never heard anything about his opinion, except for that. My maiden name was Wood. And I don't know if it was in jest or true, but my dad wanted to name me, Holly and my mom said, no, my kid is not going through life with a name that is a joke or makes people laugh every time she says it.
so that was as much as my dad weighed in, I guess. so I ended up with the name, Stephanie. I'll just tell you because most people don't know this, most legal forms have eight slots for a first name and Stephanie has nine letters in it. So I've spent the vast majority of my life with the last letter of my name being cut off. Every time I fill out a form, I find it annoying.
But what I do love about my name is my name means "crowned one." And, I was the first child and I like the idea of the sort of, royalty behind my name. I don't know if my parents looked up the meaning, but, I have always liked my name and nobody shortens it.
I do wonder how much our names affect us.
If Stephanie's father had managed to name her Holy Wood, would she know be a very different person?
I don't know when, I don't know any way of knowing whether that would make a difference.
I know that I've spent my entire life spelling. My last name for people. It's almost like my last name isn't Tweddle, my full last name is Tweddle-T-W-E-Double-D-L-E.
Could I have been a better person, if I'd had a better, last name?
Well I'm told that acceptance is key, so let's move on to the next story.
A two-minute story starting with the words "The Teacher I Remember Is..."
The teacher I remember is my 11th grade history teacher. His name was Al Picerno, Mr. Picerno First of all, Mr. Picerno taught me to be inquisitive, to ask questions about why things are the way they are, and to sort of get under the surface of things. I think when you're a teenager, you don't spend a lot of time doing that. You spend a lot of time digging in your own brain, but not about the outside world.
That was one thing that I got from him, but I think what's more important was he really taught me that history is prologue, which I didn't understand. I didn't realize that the human experience was always standing on the shoulders of some other human experience.
I didn't realize that the Vietnam war, which was going on when I was a kid, had a lot to do with the French being in Vietnam. And I didn't understand that the way my grandparents were, had to do with the depression. And that the depression had to do with the civil war, and the civil war had to do with the signing of the constitution.
He really taught me to look at the world in a way that was much less simple and much less self-centered. Like, I'm a part of a much larger story. I'm a, a thread in a tapestry. I'm not the tapestry. And the other thing that he really taught me about is that the same things happen over and over in history.
And I'll just finish this thought. So for example, the thing that I learned from him is whenever the rich people accumulate all the money together and keep it away from the poor people, eventually the poor people are always the majority and eventually, the poor people get tired of it. And they take the money back. That's just a thing that happens to human beings over and over and over.
And when you understand history, you actually understand humanity. So that's what I learned from Al Picerno in the 11th grade.
Having relistened to that story, I feel a little bit jealous. The only thing I can remember about my history teacher was that she married the woodwork teacher.
I don't remember her married name, but we all thought at the time she got married just to lose her maiden name from which she had suffered immensely.
Like last week, I'm going to play a little of what Stephanie said after this teacher story exercise.
After the focus of the exercises completed, it's like the storyteller gets another view. I think what happens is that when we tell the story, we effectively re-experience that time. And then afterwards another perspective can emerge, and it's often an overview of the whole experience.
One of the things about him was it was when I really got in my head, learning can be interesting. It can be more than just a test. The acquisition of knowledge can be fun and entertaining. That was definitely part of it. The other thing that I think was really important about him, I don't think that he thought of himself as teaching kids.
I don't think that when we walked in the room, he was like, oh, here comes a bunch of teenagers that I have to get through this hour with. I think he saw a room full of human beings that needed education. And, you need to understand the precipitating events of the first world war, because you're a human being and it's relevant to your life.
And I think, particularly in your teen years, adults are either annoyed with you or talking down to you. And he wasn't doing either one of those things.
And I'll just add one thing to this. He's the one that really got me going. I was not a great student and he really got me to get interested in school and finally live up to my potential quote unquote. He's the one that got me interested in the idea of going to college at all, which I wasn't that excited about. I just had to do it because my parents said so.
He cast a long shadow on my life.
I felt had to include that addition to the story because it can be all too easy to overlook the factor that fun and enthusiasm play and our learning and our work.
When I was at school, it was a long time ago- my kids even suggest that dinosaurs roamed the earth back then- all the tests required great memorization and my memory was, and still is pretty awful.
Back then history felt like a memory test of dates and places that had to be woven into my other structural nemesis; an essay! Need I say history was my worst subject?
But even when I was studying electronics at university, I missed the fun aspects within the academic work.
I remember offering to try to fix my friend's electronics devices as a motivational tool to get me through my studies. And somehow, trying to fix a broken Sony Walkman helped my degree work come alive in a way that none of my lectures ever could.
You have to find your fun, whatever you can, I guess.
Let's hear Stephanie's story about connection.
So the thing about connection, it's an interesting question cause I've been thinking so much about this over the past couple of years, for lots of reasons.
One of the reasons that I've been thinking about it is because I'm a meditator and in meditation one of the things that I have come to be aware of is that the border between what is Stephanie and what is the rest of the world is far more permeable than I think it is.
When you spend some time meditating, you start to realize it's a little bit hard to even say, what is I? I am meditating. What is that exactly? And the result of that has not been some kind of, um, psychotic break. It's been the realization of, my part in the world. That I am, essentially interdependent with everything else that's happening.
If I sit down to dinner... I, Stephanie, I'm sitting down to dinner and also my plate was made by a Potter in Northern California, and he got the clay from somewhere in the earth where some thousands of years ago, I dunno how clay's made, but plants broke down or, or rocks were ground up or there was a, uh, I don't know, volcanic eruption, and there's no point where I can back up and say I didn't create me and I'm not in some way disconnected from all the rest of what's happening. I think it's a peculiarity of humanity that we have this, I think of it as like a faulty coding in our system where we spend all this time trying to develop this independent creature that's separate from everything else.
Especially in the United States, we talk so much about individualism and being your own man. You know, we really prize that. And what I've come to realize is, we can prize that all we want, but it's not true. What's true is we're interdependent.
The tree outside my house is not independent from me and I'm not independent from it. And that sense of interconnection and interdependence, I find really comforting. I would rather be a part of this lovely whole Than the project that Stephanie has been working on for a lifetime of developing the perfect single, independent self.
I said last week that I keep thinking that the connection stories will start to repeat or sound similar. And yet they've always been different. And Stephanie has not let us down.
Stephanie's story of connection reminded me of something that I often say.
It's sort of the opposite of Stephanie's more positive message. Kind of negative in a way.
I say, " No single human being has ever done anything of any significant value without the help from others."
The great writers and fine art painters did not make their pens or paper.
The great musicians that not make their instruments or recording equipment.
The great athletes did not race alone.
Humans are only great because they connect with each other.
And Stephanie added in her story that we also connect with our entire planet.
So now you know that Stephanie is awesome, you can connect with her on LinkedIn via the link in the show notes.
And you can connect with me on LinkedIn, or you can send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you liked this podcast, please share it and review it on your favorite podcast player. But most of all keep on having fun making the very best of connections.