"A story beats with the heart of every person who has ever strained ears to listen. On the breath of the storyteller, it soars. Until its images and deeds become so real you can see them in the air, shimmering like oases on the horizon line." Cameron Dokey, The Storyteller's Daughter

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Deck the halls with storytelling!  Fa la la la la la la la la!  What a wonderful season to connect with family and friends and renew old acquaintances (lest they be forgot).  While you are doing all this "connecting", don't forget to tell stories to each other...we do that, anyway.  Make sure your children and grandchildren know about holiday traditions in your family's past and make new traditions that you will all cherish in the future.  This is the season of remembering the greatest of Gifts that was ever given, and also remembering those who may be less fortunate by giving our time, talents and even finances to help. Have a Merry Christmas; Happy Holidays; Happy New Year.  And remember to include storytelling (and storytellers) in your plans.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The holiday season is fast approaching. Are your stories ready? I don't mean stories specific to any celebration, but stories that need to be shared with family and friends. Recently we had a family party where some stories of "grandpa", now deceased, were shared. Everyone who had a memory of him shared something, and the younger audience, who hadn't known him, was mezmerized as they learned more and "grandpa" became a real person to them. We all have memories that would bless others as we share the stories. Of course, if you're looking for entertainment for a holiday party or occasion, try hiring a storyteller to add a different dimension to your activity. Stories bond people together in ways that nothing else can. They are reflections of who we are as a culture and who we are as human beings. As we turn our thoughts to the things for which we are grateful this month, let's count our families and our cherised memories as among the most important.

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's my favorite storytelling season of the year. As soon as the pumpkins and scarecrows start appearing I begin thinking about ghost stories...those stories that give you just a bit of chill to go with the cooler weather. Ogden and Salt Lake City Ghost Tours is a great way to celebrate the "season" and hear some of the actual experiences that people are having in haunted old buildings and cemeteries (and even on the street). Check out the website at www.storytours.com and add something different to your October. Don't forget to share some of your favorite autumn tales with your family and friends. Sit by the fire, pop some corn and enjoy the company of loved ones and stories. If you're planning an event, consider hiring a professional teller to "spook it up". Storytellers can tell everything from non-scary fare for little ones to tales that will keep older people lying awake at night. Have a haunting October!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

There is a hint of fall in the air, the trees are starting to change colors, school has started--it must be September. Where DID the summer go? As you start to think about spiced cider and costumes, you might want to think about those stories that can give you a bit of a chill that has nothing to do with the weather. Ghost stories are appropriate any time of year, but they seem especially satisfying as the calendar turns toward autumn and October. Do you have any personal stories of unexplained events in your family? Well, we do in mine! Dust those off and share them with loved ones. You might also want to consider finding a teller who can share some with you. There are many story-listening opportunities available this time of year, so snuggle up with your cider and listen to some ghost stories!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August is upon us...the fireworks of July are past. Why not make "fireworks" of your own by telling some really funny or scary or interesting or informative stories? Here in the West it is the camping season and there is nothing better to do than sit around as the dusk begins to settle upon the mountains and tell stories. You could begin by sharing the family anecdotes that everyone enjoys hearing again and again. Then follow with a favorite regional tale ("The Windigo" comes to my mind) and then a folktale. Of course, you always want to end with something a little scary (or more scary if the littler ones have been persuaded to go to bed!). Consider storytelling as part of your late summer family reunion; hire a storyteller to liven up your next barbecue or party. There are so many reasons to tell a story: find someone and tell them a story today! Happy summer!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Happy 4th of July! The month of remembering and appreciating the freedoms we enjoy is upon us...and wherever you live this is a good time to reflect on your heritage and what is important to you. I teach children and have been asked (living in the USA)--"what is our culture?" as I try to teach the younger generation to respect and understand a little about others and their cultures. We have a great opportunity to "pass on" whatever culture we call our own through story. After all, this has been the way of oral tradition for thousands of years--telling stories that help define who we are and what we value. Since I live in the United States, I enjoy telling some tales that are from my cultural heritage. As we delve into our own culture, we very often find that it is not so different from others...we have much in common. Happy telling!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

To quote a famous song--"June is bustin' out all over!" The weather here in Utah is glorious, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and my honeysuckle bushes are scenting the air. School has just gotten out for the summer and it is a wonderful time to read, tell and listen to stories. Many of you are probably planning family activities, camping trips, reunions and festivals of various types throughout these next three months of summertime. Don't forget to include storytelling on these occasions. Storytelling is a way to link the generations together, to pass on important information and traditions, to keep the culture of your family and area intact, to remember those who have passed on, and just to laugh and cry and enjoy each others company. If you want a different type of entertainment for young and old alike, hire a storyteller for your next barbecue or activity. It's good, old-fashioned fun at its best. Have a great summer!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May is fully here and with it the end of the school year and the beginning of the summer storytelling season! What better way to celebrate than planning outdoor activities and festivals with a storyteller as the featured event? This is also the time to think about those great family trips and the opportunities to gather your children and grandchildren around and tell them the stories that make them who they are. Children love to hear about those who went before and recognize similarities in talents, looks, and interests with others--it gives them the feeling of belonging, something that can be sorely lacking in today's fast-paced society. So...give yourself and your children (and others you care about) the gift of story. It will enrich you both. Happy telling!

Friday, April 6, 2012

April is here:  spring, daffodils, beautiful blue skies, and many more opportunities to tell (and listen to) stories.  A few weeks ago I was volunteering in a large building in Salt Lake City, Utah.  My job there is to greet people and make them feel welcome.  I was talking to a family and discovered that they were traveling from Iowa, and the exact town where I spent most of my elementary school days...long ago.  After we reminisced about various local landmarks and how the flooding several years ago has affected the area, I mentioned one of my fondest childhood memories.  When I was younger my parents took me to some children's theater productions at the local college.  That is probably the first time that I was introduced to the stage (a passion for me) and was able to see the actors up close and personal, as they came into the lobby and greeted the children as we left.  The "mascot" for this theater was a dancing ear of corn--not a real ear of corn, but someone in a costume!  This dancing corn would introduce each play with the "theme song" of the theater, which was called "Playtime Poppy".  (This really happened:  everything in Iowa is related to either pigs or corn.)  As I was sharing this story, the woman in the group told me that she was on the board of directors for that same "Playtime Poppy" theater, though they now travel and use the stages at local high schools.  They are still producing children's theater for yet another generation of kids.  Her husband said, "Well, you can go back and tell the board how that affected someone."  You see, I happened to be involved with a community theater production at the time we were having this conversation: that early exposure to the stage made me want to participate in it years later.  What a small world this is, and what a difference in someone's life we can make without even knowing who they are.  Those who acted in those plays so long ago didn't have any idea the effect they had on at least one child, who has now acted in over 30 theater productions!  What effect can telling stories have on your family?  your friends?  those you may not even know?  Try sharing a story today and see what it does for you and those you care about.  Consider having a professional teller come to an event you may be planning this spring.  What power there is in story, whether on the stage or in the living room.  Keep telling tales.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

These past couple of months have been a feast for storytelling in northern Utah:  three festivals, a conference with national presenters, and numerous opportunities to do what I like best--tell stories to appreciative audiences.  I have heard a plethora of folk tales during these events, as well as reading some to expand my repertoire, and I have been thinking about that genre of story.  What is it that makes folk tales appear in various locations, almost unchanged in basic plot, and makes them told and re-told throughout the years?  Why is it that movie makers keep discovering and re-discovering these stories?  I think the answer is that they always have a kernal of truth that speaks to our very souls.  We want the hero to win because we want to come out "on top" ourselves.  They seem to empower us and give us "permission" to be human, have faults, and still overcome.  Also, they are just good stories!  They have been handed down from generation to generation because we like to hear and tell them.  So...find a storyteller for your next event and experience the magic of folktale.  Or...tell a story to someone else--it will brighten both your days.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Do we LOVE storytelling, or what.?  This is the perfect month to share a story with someone you love--family member, friend or sweetheart.  Nothing brings people closer together than story.  Our recent 5th Annual Clearfield Storytelling  Festival was a huge success.  We moved to a larger venue this year and still filled the room.  Everyone felt the warmth and magic of story on a cold winter evening.  The audience was mesmerized by the tellers, who ranged in age from 10 years to....well... older.  Even the youngest audience members were enthralled with the presentations and at the end we were well filled with story, memories and things to contemplate for later.  We had a great mix of stories--cowboy poetry  to folktale to personal story to historical tale.  If you want to experience to totally new type of entertainment--one for the whole family and even the ADULTS--look up a storytelling event in your area.  Caution:  story-listening is addictive.  You will begin to want more and more of it.  Happy February!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

If you're wondering what to do to "warm" those cold winter nights...why not try storytelling?  Years ago, when many people lived in agricultural settings, winter was the time when chores slowed down and evenings were spent telling tales.  Culture was passed down at times like these, and many children learned about values and family from these shared experiences in front of the fire on a frosty winter night.  So...pop some corn, turn on the gas log, and try some old-fashioned entertainment with your family this January.  You'll all wonder why you didn't think of turning off the TV long ago!  Check into activities in your local area:  storytelling may be offered in various venues and can spark your own (and your children's) creativity.  It's a cozy way to spend time in the winter.