Storytelling 106: 5 times in a day

Here’s a Storytellers’ Secret: if you tell a story you want to remember five times within 24 hours, the story is yours. The trick is who will listen to your tale?

When we embody a story, it uses all our senses plus our reading of our audience to embed it into our cells. Gesture, facial expression, patterning of words, repeated refrains, all assist in embodying the story. This resonates far deeper than memorising a story (which we would never do, would we?). When a story has been taken into cellular memory and each movement in the tale gives rise to the next part of the story, we have the story’s soul.

Every Storyteller I know, including myself, has been asked if a story they have told is true. Every story holds an element of truth. It is why different stories resonate and stay with us. There is something in the tale that is true for us. When we tell a story and it resonates for our audience, we can feel it. It is a moment of intimate connection, where we are one.

Storytelling is physical but it’s impact is non-physical and why it can resonate with your audience (this leads into philosophical discussion, which storytellers love). When practicing a story, it can be difficult to find an audience who will listen to your tale five times in one day. If you have obliging friends and family, use them. Their reactions to the story will assist you to refine it and take it into your cellular memory.

What if you don’t have people who will listen or feel too self-conscious to ask? I know I will sound somewhat pompous here but, put your ego aside. When I tell a story, it is not about me. Yes, I use my skills and talents and mostly my own stories. However, I tell particular stories because I feel an urge to tell them. Storytelling is a calling, it is the story that is important.

I once was asked to perform for the Association of Relinquishing Mothers. As an adopted child, a foster carer and permanent carer, I felt I was the person to choose and perform these stories. I would have passed the gig onto someone else if I had not felt strongly about it. I carefully chose stories where the child in the story was encouraged to be her very own self, despite any opposition, by the parents who had care of her. It hit the mark. (If you want to know more about me as a parent and carer, read the blogs under Parenting, Introspectives and Musings.) This is an example of why I feel Storytelling is a calling.

Back to the question, what if you don’t have people to listen to you tell the tale? Record it, listen to yourself, re-record, listen again five times. If you listen with how the story sounds and how you want it to sound, embellish the parts you wish to stand out, you will have a story to remember. At your first opportunity, tell your story to another human (dogs and cats get distracted). Ask them what they hear in the story and never tell your audience they are wrong. People bring themselves to art and see what it is they do and in the case of stories, hear what they hear. They do not have to hear what resonated for your, your truth, they get to hear their own.

Now you know how to choose a story and remember it, it is time to begin. Let me know how you go.

Stories Art Life © : Meditative Storytelling Process

Are you needing to sort stuff in your life?

Do you need a peaceful space and a little time out?

Do you love stories?

Then you need to join us for a meditative storytelling process.

Stories are the way in which we frame our lives. We contextualise our experiences through our stories, we share our stories and we see ourselves in other people’s stories. Stories are the way in which we interact and network. Stories are the way in which we untangle the sticky webs of trauma and sorrow. What better way to share our stories, untangle the sorrows and re-shape our tales into sparkling spirals but through storytelling?

Stories Art Life © is a reflective meditative practise that allows us to centre and rest in Story. Being told a story can carry us back to a time when snuggled down for a tale was the safest place to be. It is also the place, when we are listening to story, that we are the most receptive to the tales that need to be told from our own lives.

Stories Art Life © works like this. We welcome, acknowledge the sacredness and confidentiality of our sharing, share where we are at, settle comfortably, relax and breathe. Then I tell you a story. You are welcome to watch me tell or close your eyes. When the story is complete, reflect and respond to the story on your art pad. This is when we share each other’s stories. Whatever you share will be part of someone else’s story. This is how a Reflective Story Circle © works.

Whatever the issue you believe you need to deal with, whatever you are grappling with, whatever you think you should be dealing with, may not be what comes up through the story process. Whatever does come us is what is actually at the top of the pile and exactly where you need to be.

I use a number of different processes as an Holistic Counsellor and stories are my favourite. The next series of Stories Art Life © will be in February and March in Belgrave Victoria. You are welcome to contact me through this blog and I will respond.

When: Tuesdays, Feb 11, 18, 25 and March 4 and 11, 2014
Where: Pandora’s Healing Centre, 41 Station St, Belgrave, Victoria
Time: 7pm – 8.30pm
Bring: An art pad and your favourite, chalks, pastels, pencils, textas
Cost: $50 for 5 weeks

Yours in Story,

The boy who learnt to hear: A Jumbly Tale

When my son was three he lost his hearing, when he was four he received a cochlear implant. The implant is truly remarkable technology. With artificial processing in one ear, I do wonder how much he misses out on, then I think don’t we all?

Too often I realise I listen with my perception and can mis-read intent. Another person’s behaviour and how they speak is a reflection of them. I see this particularly in my son who often misinterprets comments to be negative then will proceed to become exceedingly upset. It’s interesting how big the story is that we can create about an event or an individual because we listen with all we are.

If I read a story or listen to it told, I can apply it to myself and more broadly. If you tell me an anecdote about another person, I will not apply it to myself. I am not a subtle person. I do not practise paranoia. If I am told an anecdote I will listen to it that way, an anecdote about another person. People who attempt to send me messages this way are doomed to failure. If I am listening to you, I am listening to you. I consciously practise being present in my listening.

Every conversation we have, triggers thoughts, memories and responses. When we talk we can be reminded of other events. Our internal censors keep us on track. Quite often the thread of the story can be lost when the passing thought, triggered by the conversation, is more interesting. Those ‘senior moments’ are a sign of a life lived to the full with hundreds of memories and thoughts triggered by every conversation. it’s amazing we can conduct any conversations to conclusions.

We all know people who indulge in stream of consciousness talking. That is not conversation. I have a friend who is extra-ordinary. Mid flow a memory will be triggered and she will de-tour through that tale, returning to the original story at exactly the point she left it. She has a truly marvelous brain.

Brains, listening, perceptions, seeing, believing. It’s time for another Jumbly tale.

Let me tell you a story

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, there lived a boy in a village with his mother. He was a lovely boy. He was happy in himself and concerned for others. He was happy to go to the market for his mum and pick up extras for Mrs. Lillapine, the Jumbly Man’s friend. Most of all, he was best friends with the Jumbly Man.

The boy’s dad had left long ago and his mum just got on with whatever needed getting on with. With a whole village to pitch in and Elders to watch over them, the boy never felt the loss of a father.

He and the Jumbly Man, since he was a tiny boy, would bumble off whenever Jumbly arrived at his house, fishing rod in hand. His mother would smile and greet Jumbly, hand over the picnic basket and off they would go. Fishing was what they did. As a little boy, he had talked and talked and laughed with the Jumbly Man, never questioning how he knew what he was asked or what was replied.

The boy got older and began to look about him. The village was still the same and this was reassuring. He was curious though. Curious about many things. Curious about Jumbly things. One cold Saturday afternoon, after a successful morning’s fishing, and the boy and his mother were cosily ensconced in the warm kitchen, he thought to ask.

“Mum, how old is the Jumbly Man?” he asked. Mum stopped moving and looked up surprised, “Well, not old, he went to school with me.” Surprised in turn, the boy’s mouth fell open. His mother interpreted correctly and smiling scolded,” Now, now, I’m nowhere near old enough to be an Elder!” The boy grinned at her. That was what he had been thinking. Still, that made him think of another question.

“Mum, when the Jumbly Man was a boy, could you understand him?” His Mum stopped again and turned to look at her son. “Well, yes, he talked just like the rest of us.”

The boy was astonished. He always knew what the Jumbly Man wanted or it became clear by his actions. Everyone in the village was the same. It was just that it had only just occurred to him that the Jumbly Man could not have always been this age but he was very surprised to think of him as a boy. A boy who did not have his words back to front or his sentences inside out.

“Mum? Did something happen to the Jumbly Man, Mum? Did something happen to make his words all jumbly?”

“Well, yes Son, but it isn’t my story to tell. You will have to ask the Jumbly Man.”

The boy was stunned by this suggestion and for the first time wondered how he could understand the Jumbly Man and how he could get his story. It seemed very important. He got off his chair and turned to go when another question presented itself.

“Mum, did the Jumbly Man have another name when he was a boy?”

“No darling, his family were the Jumbles, tinkers in times passed. His name is Adam Jumbles, Jumbly for short. It is you children who call him the Jumbly Man.” Mum smiled at him and bent to the oven.

Well! Never had there been so many astonishing revelations in one afternoon. It wasn’t how he thought the Jumbly Man was at all. The boy looked outside and stood watching the clouds blow passed his bedroom window as he pondered. He stood there for a long time, thinking. He had imagined that he could teach the Jumbly Man to speak. Now he wanted to know his story and was willing to listen to however it came out.

Just then a ray of sun cut through the scattering clouds as the Jumbly Man himself emerged proud in bright red gumboots. He saw the boy through the window and waved then da dah-ed his new red boots. The boy laughed and understood the invitation, ran for his jacket and his own boots.

and that is the end of the story.

(C) CL H Harper 23rd August 2013