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February 2009
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Touching Lives with HM

February 12, 2009   

Submitted by: Sharon Murdoch 

While on the recent Heritage Makers cruise in the Caribbean with Candy (my daughter and author of the first storybook), we had a chance to get to know Lisa Klipfel, an HM director from California.  It didn’t take us long to realize that we had more than one common interest.  Sitting at the counter of a very popular restaurant, Johnny Rocket, we began to share, laugh and plan together to see how many different ways we could integrate the idea of story to enhance the self-esteem of high risk teenagers, children and adults with medical and developmental disabilities, and individuals with mental health issues.

Candy and I shared with Lisa the story of my grandson, Teague, who at six years of age fought a rare form of cancer for some eight months in the Seattle Children’s Hospital. During that time he was very despondent to visitors as everyone, including the medical staff, asked the same question of the little guy:  “How are you today?”  We understand that it is nearly impossible to ignite a conversation with a sick child, so we searched for many different venues to help Teague feel important and needed.  Candy and I returned to what we know best: story and its ability to create real heroes.

With the help of his mother, Teague created his own storybook about a robot who survived cancer and broke free of all his medical lines.  When visitors arrived, his storybook was the first thing seen upon entering his room.  Interestingly enough, the conversations began with:  “Are you the author of this book?  Can I read your story?  Are you going to write a sequel?”  Teague was happy; we all were happy as we saw another real hero emerge from the pages of his book.

I was excited to learn that Lisa has been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of California for 10 years.  I found her words below to be an excellent inclusion in workshops and HM conversations to help others realize what the power of a story can do.The power of story is so much more than we realize.  When a parent or caregiver takes the time to sit and read to their child, the nurturing time creates important bonding. Bonding is essential for a child’s development, and parent child bonding increases a child’s security, confidence, self esteem, and independence.  Reading to children gives them your undivided attention, elevates their importance, helps them build listening skills and expands their attention.  Now imagine that the book of choice was a real life story-
a story of heroes, of love within the child’s own family.  How riveting for a child. Because the story is about him, his family, and his roots, the story is internalized at a deeper level and the family bonding will be even stronger.  Cornerstone books are like a dose of prevention.  I encourage every parent and caregiver to write a cornerstone book, as the long standing positive effects for their children can be seen in the power of story

I am going to continue working with Lisa to see how we can reach this unique group of individuals and families. We welcome your thoughts and ideas. I would love to hear about your experiences with story, real heroes and building self esteem for individuals and family.  Please send me your thoughts to so I might share them with others.