Bad decisions make good stories

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bad-decisionI read that on one of those endless lists of wisdom that friends keep re-posting on Facebook. It made so much sense and made me think of examples where that’s been true in my life. Yes, I definitely should NOT have believed that man in a Paris cafe who told me he was a big French rock star (I was 23 at the time). Or that his big burly friend was his bodyguard. Continue reading

On the theme of beginnings

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IMG02314-20110624-1913Our first story circle of 2014 is in January, on the theme of New Beginnings. I find the last couple of weekends in December to be a great time to curl up all day, with one cup of tea after another, and think about what is ending and what is beginning. I can’t think of these two things separately. Every ending, whether it is good or painful, has in it the seeds of what is beginning. Every exciting, happy beginning has some sort of sacrifice, trade-off, or loss of something else. Continue reading

10 ideas for mining the stories of your life

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I was preparing a story for an evening of story telling in Norfolk, about experiencing the San Francisco earthquake of 1989. I decided to spark my memories of that time by looking at YouTube videos of coverage of the quake. Surprisingly, the videos put me in the same state of panic I experienced at that time, the butterflies, the dry mouth and cold sweat…

It got me to thinking of various ways one could trigger memories Continue reading

Time travel and other stories at the farm

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I took my first extended outing in the English countryside this past weekend in Norfolk. A friend invited me to stay in his converted stables cottage, with two other storytellers. We joined a line-up of seven people telling stories on the theme of Time.

What a great few days! The cottage is on the grounds of a fabulous manor house called Elsing Hall, in the medieval village of Elsing… population 250. Here’s the mini Downton Abbey Continue reading

A true story weekend in Norfolk

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Read Emma Lindley’s account of our story weekend, where we stayed in a fabulous converted stables cottage in Norfolk, England: True Stories.

Emma is a film director/producer and was called upon to fill in when one of the storytellers cancelled at the last minute. She has some interesting reflections about the difference between a “story” and a series of memories.

I’ll write a follow-up soon.

Stories in the tent

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St. Ethelburga’s, Bishopsgate

St. Ethelburga’s church in the City of London has a great story. It was nearly destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1993, but some of it still remains and dates back to medieval times. After the bomb, and a public outcry against its demolition, the church was rebuilt and transformed into an interfaith center for reconciliation and peace. Continue reading

Is it story-worthy? 5 questions a good raconteur should ask

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Characters in "Seinfeld" You want to tell a true story or anecdote that others want to hear, instead of wishing they could get the last 10 minutes of their life back. Unlike Seinfeld, not everyone can make a story out of nothing. But most people do have stories that entertain, surprise, or make us cry.

So how do you know if your story is worth telling? Continue reading

On the beach with the Kennedys

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Here’s a practised true story teller, and a great sample of the wealth of videos from The Moth available on youtube:

What makes it satisfying for me is how she closes the loop of the story and relates all the themes in it: spying, the Kennedy’s, the eye… When it’s over, you feel that it’s complete and you’ve come full circle. Enjoy!

Story Ideas: Has anything embarrassing ever happened to you on a family vacation? Have you ever had encounters with celebrities?

A wink from the afterlife

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Grandma-Scanned

We had a great first circle last week, made up of friends, who told some great escape stories! And we now have a second circle date, November 27th, with a choice of story themes related to journeys. I’m hoping to get the hang of getting the word out through social media for the next event, so that we’ll have both familiar and new faces.

Speaking of journeys, ever since my beloved, funny, kooky aunt died a few years ago, I’ve wondered exactly where she went. I’d worked out my beliefs about what comes after death a long time ago, but until I lost someone that close, I hadn’t felt that burning “where do they go” question on a visceral level. Would I see her again? In another life? In a dream? Would she ever communicate with me again? (That’s her in the picture volunteering in the schools soon after her arrival in America.) Continue reading

A father and a daughter

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I was getting acquainted with the wife of a colleague. She wasn’t the sort of person who warmed to people and held conversations easily, but she asked me what this story telling thing is. So I explained that it was personal anecdotes around a particular theme, and I started rattling off example themes. She said nothing until I got to the theme of “family.”

To my surprise, she immediately launched into the story of how her dad left their family when she was very young. She grew up thinking of him as a bad man, since her extended family portrayed him that way ever since he left. The trouble was the family also always told her how much she reminded them of him. She looked like him and had many of his mannerisms. In her young mind, that was an equation that summed up to “I am a bad person because I remind my family of my father, who is a bad person.” Continue reading