We all have our stories. Some are obvious and observable, evident and easy to read — others are hidden or plastered in, buried, stuffed, or glossed over.

We all carry around those things people wouldn’t know, unless we told them.

When people share their stories, it’s a gift.

I’m always surprised, although I shouldn’t be, when I hear the stories of a casual acquaintance or close friend, unraveled over coffee.

Wow, I think. You lived through that.

There are times those stories resonate, mirroring my life. Other times, I hear something completely foreign to my experience and my reaction mixes wonder and curiosity with gratefulness. I am grateful that you shared. I’m curious to hear more. I am in wonder of how strong and resilient you are.

It takes courage to share stories, but the courage is rewarded with relationships brought closer. When we share our stories with others, sharing is a bridge that brings us together. As I communicate with vulnerability, I walk closer to you. As you listen with empathy, you move closer to me.

Sharing decimates isolation; when we share, we connect. When we share, we create the possibility for encouragement and support.

But knowing how much to share, how to share, when to share, with whom to share? That can be tricky.

I’ve seen friends going through a difficult time completely drop offline; they stop blogging and updating Facebook. They slip away, disappear. I see others, and I know they are going through a difficult time, but their online presence reflects business as usual. You would never know they were experiencing difficulty, unless they told you. Or, there are others who share everything, all the time, in real time, as it happens. Others share intermittently or after-the-fact.

The decision to share is completely individual. My personal preference has always been to selectively share. I don’t want to create an illusion online that I have a perfect life, nor do I want to share every struggle and setback.

Last week, my father died. When he had a stroke this July, I shared with my Facebook friends. When he died, I sent an email to my team and to our clients. I sent private notes to a few friends and called a couple of others. But I didn’t share on Facebook. I don’t really know why, except that I wanted space and time to process the news and I wanted to spend time offline.

Now that I am back online, I am choosing to share here. My sharing is an invitation to move closer, to connect.

I am sharing because I want you to know.

And because you wouldn’t know, unless I told you.

P.S. The picture is my world this morning. Snow, cold temperatures, and kids/husband home from school/work.