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.

Join Sherry Lovett for Self-Exploration Through Storytelling

October 15th, 6:30 – 7:30 EST

This is a one-hour course devoted to personal growth, inspiration, and encouragement. It includes a breathing exercise, a group chant, and hearing a story, which will be the springboard for delving into your unique symbolic landscape and how it can help activate your forward momentum.

What Participants Have Said

“Sherry has an amazing warmth and the power to make groups feel comfortable together instantly. This class was so welcome in a time of stress and distraction in the world. We got to slow down, breathe together, and tap into our inner thoughts. The chant and story both worked to help us focus and think. I highly recommend this opportunity to work with Sherry and experience story in a new and deeper way.”

“Sherry brings to life the child inside with her storytelling, and the soul wander with her song, and the intuitive self with her guidance to connect with your truth, your story.”

“I’ve been chewing all day on what came up for me in class. I’m feeling a shift after shining a light on something that was hiding in a dark corner of my soul. Such powerful work!”

Cost and Availability

Class size is limited to five participants. The cost is $15. Next offered on October 15th from 6:30 – 7:30.

David and I like to  paddle at Hammocks Beach state park. It’s beautiful there, with an easy launch, and clearly marked paddle trails. We normally time our paddle with the tides. We go out on an outgoing tide and come back with the incoming tide. This makes  the paddling much easier. However, we have learned that you need to give the tide a bit of time to turn; if you leave at the instant it turns, it’s not much help and the paddling is tougher. The tide needs time to hit its stride. Don’t we all?!

The last time we kayaked there, we decided to try a new paddle trail. Our main mission was to find a place with few other people, so we could enjoy the solitude of nature. This is not always an easy task on a Saturday at a popular recreation area, but, optimistic, we paddled off on the falling tide in search of  it. The paddling was easy; there was little to do but allow the tide to carry us along and adjust our direction as needed for the trail. We caught sight of the marker for the trail we wanted and directed ourselves that way. Confident we were on the right path, we looked for the next marker to guide us, but we didn’t see it. How many times in life do we think we are on the right path only to find out we have missed the mark?

In the meantime, David was casting a line, trying to catch a fish along the way, and we were chatting and enjoying the blue skies dotted with billowy, white clouds, the sound of the water shushing against our kayak, and the general warmth of the day. The tide was booking it, rushing along its journey to the sea,  and we were happy to let it carry us. After a while, though, we began to really wonder where the next marker was. Had we missed it? Were we on the paddle trail? Where the heck were we? Where would this tributary take us? It felt like the same kind of panic we’ve had lately in the midst of many life changes and wondering if we are on the “right” path. Finally, I said, “why don’t we just relax and see where it goes.” So we did.

We allowed the tide to carry us along. David continued to fish, and I looked for photo opportunities and, occasionally, we employed our paddles, like a rudder, to keep ourselves in the flow of the channel. In what felt like a short time, we came to a fabulous, unoccupied sandbar. We beached our kayak and basked in the beauty that surrounded us. We could see Bear Island in the distance, and all around us the channel moved along, cutting a path between areas of neon-green spartina grass. The sandbar was full of tidal pools with fish and crabs and all kinds of seabirds littered the landscape. Snowy-white egrets, and stealy-blue herons ever-so-slowly moved along the edge of the grass looking for their next meal. Pelicans flew low, gliding to a stop on the water. Masses of seagulls flocked at one end of our personal little island, gossiping the afternoon away. Everyone out there was just making their living following the natural rhythms of life. 

We swam in the deep part of the channel, and walked along the sandbar island marveling at the buzz, hum, thrum of life in this salt water estuary, and talked about our own life. Gently passing clouds meandered above, the look of them in such stark contrast to the brilliant blue of the sky it took our breath away. 

For a while, time didn’t exist; we just were. We lingered in that place until time caught up to us, and we knew we needed to head back. We had given the tide time to turn and truly start its return journey, and we were hitching a ride. We loaded our kayak, hopped in, and away we went. Again, the journey was effortless as we let the tide carry us along. We marveled at the ease of movement and the miracle of life – birds, fish, crabs, the swaying spartina grass, clear, salty water peeling away from the bow of our kayak… A feast for the eyes lay before us without end, and our hearts were full of gratitude.

Once we made the turn into the channel, toward the docks the wind was also our ally. We keep an umbrella for harnessing the wind, when it is in our favor, and this day it was. David held the umbrella up, the wind filled it and pulled us with ease all the way to the dock, where someone said, “I like your sail!” In this journey of life, the more allies, the better! 

As we drove home, I couldn’t help but think about how the whole outing was a wonderful metaphor for life. We’ve experienced tremendous change in the last three months, and at times, our life seems unrecognizable. We left the job and place we lived for the last ten years, moved into a 5th wheel camper, took our daughter on a coastal NC tour before getting her settled-in at college, and then moved ourselves to a new location at the beach. Now, we have new jobs to figure out, a permanent place to live to figure out, a whole new area to learn… What will we do? How will we do?  We have been in a bevy of uncertainty and struggle,  like going against the tide.  

In this uncomfortable place it is natural to want to push things, get it all figured out: now! But our kayak trip had me thinking maybe we should just relax, and go with the flow. When you go with the flow, like us paddling with the tide, it’s all easy; there’s no struggle. You get where you are going, and you still have energy to enjoy it. 

The next time we kayaked at Hammocks Beach State Park, we wanted to go to the same sandbar, so we employed the same logic, but guess what. It didn’t work the same way: just like life. Have you ever heard the expression, “you can’t step in the same river twice.” Things are always changing, and even when you do the same thing that was once successful, you may get different results. 

We were a little earlier in the outgoing tide cycle than last time, and when we got to where our sandbar should have been, it was still covered over with water. We expected it to be revealed as the tide finished its cycle, but though we stayed until the tide was completely low, the sandbar stayed covered with water. Why would this be? Every tide is a little different and sometimes it is higher than other times, like when there is a full moon. This made me think about the importance of timing. If this had been our first time paddling to this location, we wouldn’t have known it became an exposed sandbar, making a private little beach. We would have missed it. How many things in life are like that? Timing! It’s important in storytelling. It’s important in life. 

I felt like the Universe was schooling me. “Listen up,” I seem to hear. Sometimes you stray from a preconceived path. Breathe and go with the flow and you’ll get where you need to be even if it’s not where you were planning to be. And, it might be better than what you had imagined to begin with. Honor the gifts you have been given – notice them, appreciate them, and even more will show up. Let go of expectations that things will be the same; change is the only constant. The question is, what can you learn from change? Most of all, relax; it’s going to be okay. 

Yep, I thought, who am I to argue with the Universe?!

I am thrilled to share with you an Asheville School of Film documentary about storytelling, which features me. Curt Worden was the director/instructor, Sherry Spendlove the producer, and Russell Baugher the camera operator. Though it is odd to see myself on film, I absolutely love what they created! The artistry of the film is beautiful!

Check it out here:   The Storyteller – Sherry Lovett