A friend asked me a while ago what my goal as a storyteller is. There’s nothing like good questions to help us learn and grow. This question wasn’t new to me, but suddenly, asked from someone else, I had a different kind of clarity. Performing on stage for groups of people is exciting (and a little terrifying), and entertaining people brings a certain kind of pleasure, and yet, in my heart of hearts, the question made me know my goal has to do more with self-awareness, growth, and soul nurturing than being in front of large audiences.
The stories I gravitate to to learn are ones like the proverbial onion – they have layers to examine, layers of wisdom to be gleaned. Most of the stories I tell have come to me at a time when I needed to hear their message. When Gwenda Ledbetter, a consumate storyteller and mentor of mine, gifted me her version of the “Mr Death and the Redheaded Woman,” it was at a time when my own red-headed mother, traveling the road of Alzehimer’s, was chasing down death. That story made me cry the tears I needed to cry. It gave me a different perspective of death, and it offered me comfort.
That is the power of story! The power to give a person just what they need at the time they need it. It never fails because each person views the story through their own particular lens – the individual heart and mind of each listener gleans from the story just what they need in that moment. My top goal, I realize is to offer up the best stories that come to me, in as finely a crafted fashion as I can, and act as a guide for the inner-exploration granted through story magic.
This new clarity of purpose infused and energized me. I began to think in more depth about how this kind of storytelling might look. I jotted down my ideas and pondered them until a vision took shape, and I created my first class called Self-Exploration Through Story.
Self-Exploration Through Story is a small introspective class, with a maximum of five people, so that participants can feel seen, heard, and in connection with other participants in a time when, due to social distances, people are feeling more isolated than ever. The story I chose to be the centerpiece of the class is a selkie story I created based on my research into selkie folklore. The motif of this story has everything to do with personal awareness, authenticity, and power. These are layers I want to continue to explore within myself, and I felt sure facilitating this class would be an opportunity to, not only offer others a chance for self-reflection and growth, but for me to learn from their insights as well.
Being a storyteller in this way feels like tapping into ancestral storytelling, the primitive form around a campfire or in a longhouse and later in a King and Queen’s court, times in early history when storytellers were considered sacred. They were the keepers of knowledge, and passed along the collective wisdom and history of the people. Could they be entertaining? Yes. Was that the sole purpose? Not by a long shot. And, I wanted that deeper connection, and felt like others would too.
It was a personal act of bravery to crystalize my idea into a clear format and put it out in the world. I risked the possibility of no one being interested or if there was interest, of failing on delivery. I mean, who am I to think I can offer this kind of thing?! That inner critic-nay-sayer is loud and relentless! Yet, I could not escape the tickle at the back of my mind. Nike’s catch phrase of “Just do it” sprang to mind. Nike takes their brand name from mythology: Nike, the winged goddess of victory – a story to spur me on!
I am now offering Self-Exploration Through Story on a regular basis. My ego-fears of not being “good enough” still taunt me some, but my authentic voice is louder, saying, “just do it!” I realize it’s about showing up, doing what calls to me, trusting the story, and trusting that each participant will get just what they need. If you are interested in joining me for the this self-adventure, see my flyer for more information.