navigating our stories

narrative therapy, community care, collective action

Mug, books, and journal

Our stories, ourselves.

What is the story of your life, and of yourself within your life?

What are your skills, values, and insider knowledges?

How have you stayed connected to your own strong stories?

Our stories shape how we see ourselves and the world around us, and can connect us to our own actions and choices in responding to the problems in our lives.

Narrative therapy is all about our stories – the ones we tell ourselves, and the ones we’ve been told; the ones we tell about other people, and the ones they tell about us. It’s about understanding where those stories come from, who they serve, and deciding whether we still want to give those stories weight in our lives. And it’s about reauthoring our stories, and strengthening our connections to legacies and histories of responding to hardship with skill and resilience.

A narrative conversation, either in a group setting or individually, can help us tell our stories in ways that honour our skills, values, knowledges and actions. For many marginalized communities, these skills, values, insider knowledges, and actions have been devalued and dismissed.

You already are the protagonist and the narrator of your own story, the expert in your own experience – nobody can give you that power, and nobody can take it away. But sometimes we lose connection to our deep self-storying abilities, and narrative therapy can help us get back in touch with that knowledge.

Narrative Therapy

Coaching

In 2018, I completed the Master of Narrative Therapy and Community Work degree at the Dulwich Centre and the University of Melbourne, and I am excited to offer narrative therapy to people in Calgary and online. We can work together one-on-one, or in a group setting. My facilitation style is collaborative and flexible – we can co-create a plan that will help you navigate, understand, and re-author your story in a way that feels right for you.

Self-Care Resources

Are you looking for immediate and accessible help? You’ll find resources here. This category will be growing over the next year as I complete projects. These free resources are made possible by my patrons on Patreon and I appreciate it so much.

Writing in the Margins Workshops

Writing in the Margins has been on hiatus while I completed my Master of Narrative Therapy and Community Work degree at the Dulwich Centre and the University of Melbourne. Now that I’ve completed this degree, watch this space for a new writing group launching in September, 2019!

Editing

Have you written something amazing? I can edit your fiction, creative non-fiction, academic paper, dissertation, or book. I bring a gentle and insightful editing voice, and a keen eye for detail. I read for grammar and style, of course, but what I’m best at is reading for intersectionality, accessibility, and queer and feminist politics.

Sostar Self Care on Facebook

Sostar Self Care on Facebook

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

3 weeks ago

Tiffany Sostar

This morning I was sad, as I am often sad in the mornings, and it's been a while since I posted here, so I thought maybe I could take the sadness as a nudge.

I thought I would share some of my own practices of care in response to these hard feelings, and invite some of yours.

Since November 2019, I've been writing long-hand, three-ish pages, most mornings as a way to try and hold space for grief. This has been really helpful in the pandemic, a grounding practice that makes space for the boring and repetitive complaints of this time in my life. I light a candle, sit at my little writing desk, and sometimes manage to write, and other times just stare blankly, or feel frustrated, or watch the candle.

Since the beginning of 2021, I've added a daily tarot or rune drawing to this routine, which offers me a metaphorical lens through which to think about my day. This has also been lovely. Making it daily, rather than randomly, has been nice.

Since the beginning of February, I've added one hour every day without screens or work, and most of the time I do this hour in the morning alongside my writing and cards/runes. This has made a pretty big difference in the texture of those morning practices.

This is the framework I've built for myself, the way I show up for myself most days.

All of these practices have histories - the morning pages are an intermittent line all the way back to my teenage years and my first time through Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.

Sometimes, like this morning, those histories feel like histories of failure. Those histories inform the voice that says, "I've been doing this same thing for so long, and I'm still a useless, worthless, pathetic excuse for a person."

I'm not those things.

But I've found that the mean voice can take almost anything and turn it into a weapon.

Convincing myself of my worth is not helpful in those moments. There's nothing I can say that can't be countered.

Berating myself for those thoughts is not helpful in those moments. It just fuels the mean voice further. "AH HA! So you agree with me."

What *is* helpful is gentleness. Softness. Speaking to myself the way I would speak to someone in great pain (because in those moments, I am, actually, someone in great pain).

It is helpful to narrate what's happening, and I often do this in my writing. "I am feeling this way, and it is really overwhelming." I try not to use language of judgement, and focus on just naming all of the different things that I am feeling, all of the threads that are making up the net I'm caught in.

Often, this process of naming starts opening up memories of where these threads come from. I realize I am afraid of an outcome I've witnessed in someone else's life, or of repeating something I've experienced in my own life, or of never accomplishing something that I've witnessed someone else accomplish.

This context often (not always) makes it easier to hold some compassion for why I'm feeling so distressed.

Other times, as I'm naming this all out, I'll realize that I'm just actually exhausted and there's not a deep core issue here, there's just exhaustion and depletion, and that's sometimes really validating too. Sometimes it isn't connected to a big history or cherished dreams or hopes - sometimes I'm just tired, or my pain is higher than I had consciously realized (this happens so often), or something else that is immediate and material.

Sometimes it is helpful to invite my people into the room with me, metaphorically. I am thankful to narrative practices that have made this more possible - I ask myself questions like, "who in my life knows that I care about this? Who in my life supports me in this hope? Who in my life has experienced something similar?"

These questions help me feel less alone.

I do not come out of these practices of care feeling "good" most of the time. But I do come out of them feeling more possible, and like I can stay in this life. Feeling like I can stay in this life is precious, and I do not take it for granted. It's not always there for me, the feeling that my life is possible.

The sadness usually stays in my heart, and I can feel it heavy every time I take a deep breath. Still, I keep breathing.

These are some of the ways I show up for myself on hard days. There's work involved in this. There's history. There's a community supporting me even when I'm alone in that room with my journal and candle and cards.

When you feel sad in that bone-deep way, what are the practices that keep you tethered to this life?

How have you learned these practices? What is their history?

Who knows that you engage in these practices?

Who supports you in these practices?

What do these practices make possible in your life?
... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

Tiffany Sostar

Don't forget - you can come write with me and the Shiny! writers today! ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago

Tiffany Sostar

I met a significant deadline yesterday, in the form of getting The Light Returning launched in a way that felt good. It was lovely. I am so looking forward to these days of storytelling and community. Sharing space with some folks who have participated in my end of year courses for years, and some folks who are brand new to this part of my work.

Some parts of my work feel like an endless gift, and the collective narrative pieces are like that. I love facilitating courses.

And yet.

Today?

Today my body is unbearably aching. Headache, muscle ache, every joint protesting every movement.

Part of me thinks, this is punishment. My own fault.

But I don't think that's it.

Not really.

I think sometimes I do work more than would be ideal in an average day, but blaming all this pain, in this chronic pain-enhanced body, on my own self? That just feels like internalized ableism. And it feels a little narrow in scope - I have a body with regular cycles into this kind of discomfort. And, too, the weather is changing, snow storm coming in. Even if I hadn't worked at all yesterday, I would probably feel a bit like this.

It is a hard time of year in a hard year. I have said this, or some variant of it, in almost every narrative session for the last few weeks. It is a hard time of year in a hard year.

Of course those of us with tender bodies are feeling tender.

Of course we are aching after effort.

Today's theme in the course is breath.

I am thinking about this quote from Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ book Undrowned - "I wonder what our sensitive edges have to teach us. What do our mortality and openness mean to the ecology we could surrender to together?"

And this, later from the same section - "Sometimes if I feel all my emotions in public I can't make myself speak. But sometimes I speak anyway. And my first marine mammal lesson was that if I breathe I can speak even while crying. I can breathe through salt water. I can live through this mess."

I will just breathe through today.

I can live through this mess.

The light is returning and we have each other.

Onward, onward.
... See MoreSee Less

Load more

Know your stories, know yourself.