Storytelling Performance #1

The day that I had been awaiting with excitement and fear came and went, but fortunately I can say that it did not happen without consequence.

On November 30th, 2017 I performed my story in front of a supportive crowd of about 150 people.

The day of, I could not get my stomach to settle down, so I didn’t eat too much. In the morning I packed my crystal companions that I had chosen to carry with me, they were: chrysocolla, black tourmaline, two pieces of carnelian, and citrine. Let’s just say I had my pockets full of supportive energy.

I practiced my story one last time with a good friend from work.

When I got to the event I met my fellow storytellers and we were all full of excitement and nerves. We encouraged each other and I felt better knowing that I wasn’t the only one who was panicking. Our teacher, Scott, was also very encouraging, telling us “nerves were completely normal” and to enjoy telling our story and being present with our audience. He assured us he knew we were going to put on a wonderful show. I tried to believe him.

People started to arrive for the event, we were mingling for 45 minutes before we got the signal to go into the auditorium. I saw many familiar faces, which helped me feel a little more relaxed.

When the first storyteller went up, I felt just as nervous and excited as she was. Then her story finished, and the next storyteller went up, and the next, and the next. Then it was my turn to stand up and walk to the microphone. I remember saying a quick “Please help me!” to my spirit guides and stepping down into the center of the auditorium. Scott introduced me, sharing that when asked about who had the most influence in helping me became the person I was that night, I answered that everyone I had met had helped me be who I was that night. I heard the audience say “aaww”.

The rest of the story is kind of blurry, go figure! I said the opening of my story and the words just kept flowing, I could hear myself speaking, I didn’t feel nervous. I looked into the audience and saw engaged and supportive faces. I didn’t hear myself stumble, or say “umm”, which I tend to do when nervous. Then my story was done. I said thank you. People started clapping. Scott came over to ask for another round of applause. I was feeling warm and tingly. I returned to my seat and my fellow storytellers were smiling and high-fiving me. It was done. And I was alive.

Once the storytelling ended, the Foundation who was celebrating their 20th anniversary shared some important news. They thanked all the storytellers. We went out into a reception where I was showered with hugs, compliments, and stories that the audience members wanted to share. My story had awakened stories in them.

I felt so proud of my self for accepting the invitation/challenge to tell my story. My heart was warmed by the people that came up to share their own stories with me. I knew from the storytelling workshops that this was the magic of storytelling, when you share your story, you give freedom to other people to share their own.

Having worked in that story, which was about my parents and why the work I do now is meaningful to me, had made me rethink many things. I’m still processing them and I hope to do a future blog post about that. This is the other part of storytelling, before the performance, comes the discovery, the exploration, the digging deep down to find what is important.

I have been thinking about what my next story will be. I don’t know that I will ever perform it, but you never know, maybe I get another invitation and I decide to be brave.

I uploaded one of my practice runs of my story to my sound cloud account. Click here to have a listen.  

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Maybe High School English Classes Do Matter…

Since I was a young girl I have wanted to be a writer. I filled journal, after journal, after journal. Becoming a writer is still my dream, but now that I am an adult, it feels a little more distant, like it’s something that might not actually happen.

Most of what I have written over my life time are daily reflections in my journals. In high school, I took a stab at writing short stories for my English classes. There are three classes that stand out from my high school years, two of them were taught by one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Barry Grimes.

Mr. Grimes was my English teacher during grades 10 and 12. He introduced me to a diverse range of writers, not just in styles but also in culture. His teaching style was about bringing out the life lessons hidden in the books and making us think about how the stories we were reading connected to our own life and our own stories. Of course, we were all young so most of his teachings eluded us, but he tried nonetheless. Mr. Grimes was peculiar. He carried three small notebooks in his back pocket, he used to record things through out his day. He had very sloppy hand writing, but I got used to it. He wrote on a chalkboard, when most teachers were using white boards.

In his class, I read books like The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Farewell to Manzanar, and Braided Lives: An Anthology of Multicultural American Writing. We also got to write our own short stories, emulating the writing styles of the authors we were reading. Mr. Grimes liked my writing and ignited in me the belief that maybe I too could be a writer some day.

The other class that was formative for me was a Latino Literature class I took in my junior year (11th grade) with Mr. Bodeen. In his class I was introduced to many Chicano authors like Gloria Anzaldua, Tomas Rivera, and Rudolfo Anaya. In his class I read one of my favorite books: Bless Me, Ultima. In his class I also wrote some short stories and learned that my cultural background provided me with a lot of creative material.

Did you take any classes during high school that had an impact on you? Share your stories in the comments!

The Power of Stories

In my last post, I shared about how in the last few months I have began to be involved with oral storytelling. I want to share how stories have been a significant in my life even before getting into storytelling.

In college I had to take a writing seminar my freshman year, I took the one called The Power of Story: Writing as Transformation. The class was rather small, maybe 10 people. Some of those people become my best friends in college.

In the class we wrote stories, then read them in class and provided feedback to each other. We shared personal and vulnerable stories; this is probably why the group became so close. The professor shared her stories with us too. I don’t remember much about the class, but I do remember learning about the hero’s journey. I  remember the stories my classmates shared. And I remember a moment when the professor shared how she felt alone, and that she was afraid that she would die alone. I remember her vulnerability, and I remember feeling what she said as if they were my own feelings.

I didn’t understand this then, but stories are powerful. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and about the world around us have real life implications, they determine how we act and how we live our life.

Most of us aren’t aware of the stories we believe. We are not aware of the stories that we have inherited from our parents.  And most importantly, we are not aware that we have the power to change the story. I know I wasn’t aware of that before, and now I’m finally beginning to put this story puzzle together.

What about you? Have you ever though about the stories you have believed about yourself and how the world works? Share in the comments!

Writing was my first spiritual practice

 

notepad-691250_1280I started keeping a journal since I was in fourth grade in Mexico. My first diary was a gift from a friend. I wrote childish things, like any 10 year old would.

I took it to school one day and when I went back home it was gone! I was heart broken. I probably only had a couple of days worth of writing, but I felt traumatized that someone in my class was reading my deepest darkest secrets and probably laughing about them. I felt so embarrassed and angry.

I tried keeping a journal again, but I was always afraid that my dad would read it. He was always curious about what I was writing and thinking. That fear kept me from writing for a few years.

When I was in high school I was gifted a beautiful journal by someone at my church and I began writing. I told my dad he had to stop wanting to read my journals and I used to hide them in different places just in case.

During high school I needed to write, a lot. I had all these emotions and thoughts. I didn’t care if my dad read my journals any more. Now I understand that he was just curious about what I was thinking, he could have just asked!

After high school I kept writing. I filled notebook, after notebook, after notebook, until I had a pretty decent size collection. I was still afraid of my dad reading my journals so I made a terrible decision. I decided my journals would be safer with the boyfriend at the time. Little did I know. After I broke up with said boyfriend I lost all my journals because he would not return them. I still mourn the loss of all those years of writing. In those journals I recorded some major transitions of my adolescence, and they are lost to me.

Now I have a decent size collection again. I write to process things, to find answers, to vent, to record life, to leave something for posterity too. I can definitely say that writing has kept me sane for many years, and it will continue to be my go to spiritual and meditative practice. Being afraid that people will read your journals and violate your privacy was no fun though. I don’t feel like that any more. I write pretty freely, and look! I’m even posting it here on the internet for everyone to read!

What was your first spiritual practice?