When the Real Story Begins…

Dear Reader:

The real story of our lives begins after the ‘happily-ever-after’ ending which is never the ending…it is the beginning of our own personalized true stories.

It took me a long time to realize this. Like most little girls we think we will grow up, marry our Prince Charming and live happily ever after. More times than not…it doesn’t play out in real life like what it did in our minds and imaginations growing up. BUT (and this is a big but) that doesn’t mean that our lives can’t be just as adventuresome and fulfilling as hoped for in our early lives.

(*To date I have taught school in Copenhagen, Denmark, traveled to Prague and Berlin with the Goethe Institute, toured London, attended an International Creativity Workshop in Provence (saw Paris while there) seen Dingle, the Cliffs of Moher (and so much more) in Ireland,  traveled to about a third of our country’s states, and taken three cruises to the Caribbean.)

I have mentioned several times in past blogs that my life started again after my diagnosis of breast cancer in 2008…and it started over for the better. I wouldn’t want to return to my former self before breast cancer.

It’s not that there was anything particularly bad about that life and who I was at the time…but I was living a spiritually shallow, daily survival life that blinded me to the gifts God was surrounding with me during difficult stages of that period in my story.

Several times the Ya’s have discussed this and how we only came back together when our children  left home to go to college and/or enter the work force. When we finally all came up for air.

Sadly, when we really needed each other…when the children were younger, relationships dissolving, or health issues pending…we were locked into a daily struggle to ‘fit everything in’ to the extreme that we didn’t feel we had time to even reach out for help from old friends.

Reflecting on my real story…there have been certain benchmarks in it that became catalysts for change…even if I didn’t recognize it at the time. I think the end of Life Part 1 for me was the disintegration of my marriage. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding it…there is always a sense of failure associated with the disillusionment.

However, once I got over the temporary shock of it all…I began learning more about life and myself than I had ever experienced . Being a single parent made me stronger than I ever would have been if I could have chosen otherwise. And there was and is a sense of pride that (with a lot of help from family and friends) three children were raised with a faith in God for a foundation and are “good people” …my pride and joy.

The next benchmark, Life Part 2, was my diagnosis of breast cancer in 2008…two weeks following my daughter Mandy’s wedding to the wonderful John Turner.

(Last name Turner is right and Rutledge wrong…twice this engagement photo went to our local paper and twice the name came out wrong…but we love the Rutledge name…it works too!)

I think Sarah Addison Allen sums it up best when she remarks at the back of one of her novels…“My life before and my  life after (breast cancer diagnosis) are so vastly different that sometimes I think they were lived by two separate people.” *I understand this comment precisely…it is like someone gives you magical glasses that change everything about how you look at the world and you can never return to the mundane everyday life you lived before… because the surreal has turned into reality…thank goodness!

And like the title quote message states: “A day will come when the story inside you will want to breathe on its own. That’s when you will start writing.”

And that is exactly how it happened. Chapel of Hope Stories began after my first discovery of this beautiful, tucked away little chapel in Trust, North Carolina. (Thanks to Mike and Honey Burrell) In wanting to tell its story and the magnetic pull it had on me when I first entered it…my writing began. The first article: “Keeping Cancer at Bay One Story At a Time.” (To date that is exactly what has transpired.)

So until tomorrow…Along with the same appreciation of author Sarah Addison Allen….thank you. “Many of you have been with me on the journey from the beginning, many joined me in the middle, and many have come in after. To all of you, I want to say a special thanks for being a part of my life-before, after, and everywhere in between.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*So many very special things happened over the weekend concerning new additions to my garden and new additions to my garage apartment. They are both mind-blowing to me. Their story needs to be told separately…so until tomorrow…let me give you one hint from these aerial view photos of my yard. It is the first time in years I have been able to get an aerial view safely…there’s  a reason for that.









About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to When the Real Story Begins…

  1. bcparkison says:

    Love your stories Miss Becky. Keep them coming.


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