Good stuff coming up

Hello Beautiful People,

I know our show isn’t until Sept 27 but there are some cool things coming up that I want to tell you about.

Firstly, I’m hosting an open mic at the Seattle Storytellers Guild on Friday the 21st that you’re all invited to. The rules are the same as FGS and the theme is “Wake Up Call” – a theme we did a couple months ago. Feel free to tell a story you’ve told at FGS or a brand new one on that theme. I pasted the details from the Guild’s announcement below. Contact either of the two women if you have any questions about the show.

Sept. 21, Haller Lake Storytelling Evenings, 7:30-9:30

“WAKE UP CALL!” – Stories of Things You can’t Avoid. Hosted by Paul Currington

Bring along an 8 Minute Personal Story on our theme and drop your name in the hat for an opportunity to tell it.

Due to the unavailability of our usual Venue that evening, we’ll meet at Halcyon Clubhouse, 12233 Ashworth Ave North. (Don’t use Google Maps!)

From the Haller Lake Community Club, go South to 122nd, (where Densmore curves to the left. Turn Right on 122nd, go one block, then Right on Ashworth (despite the Dead End sign). The Clubhouse will be on the left.  Look for our Sign.

Free, snacks provided; donations welcome. Contact: Patty, pattipaz.z@gmail.com,  or MaryAnne Moorman at auntmama@gmail.com for more information

Secondly, one of our regular tellers will be on KNKX’s Sound Effect tomorrow. Sam Blackman, multiple MothSlam winner and all-around good guy, will be talking with Gabe Spitzer on 88.5 tomorrow. The show starts at 10am but I don’t know when Sam’s segment will be on. If you miss the live broadcast, I’ll send out a link to his segment when it’s available.

Lastly, I want to let you know about a special show on November 10 and 11. Bill Bernat, one of our regular tellers, is helping produce the annual NAMI storytelling fundraiser. Me and a few other tellers from FGS have been helping eight courageous people share their stories of living with or supporting people with mental health challenges. Bill has done a ton of work to get this show together and I hope some of you can come see it.

Bill Radke, host of KUOW-FM‘s The Record and Week In Review, will be the emcee on November 10 🙂

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-brainpower-chronicles-mental-health-stories-tickets-47272084076

The tickets are pricey because it’s a fundraiser, but if you know anyone who would like to see this show and support NAMI at the same time please forward the link to them.

That’s all for now. I hope you have a great weekend. See you on the 27th!

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com

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FGS: Taking Chances

September’s theme is Taking Chances. I’ve always wished I was the type of person who takes chances. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m more comfortable taking baby steps toward something I want and then beating myself up for years afterward if it doesn’t work out. If there was a mental triathlon that involved running over everything I did wrong, swimming in a sea of despair, and biking through the Valley of Regret, I would be in the top ten every year.

For the last few years, though, I’ve experimented with taking more chances. I’ve told stories onstage never thought I’d tell. I’ve disagreed with people I love hoping they’d still love me when I stopped talking. And I’ve tried to remain open to romantic love (though I seem to flip flop on that daily). If you knew me 20 years ago you’d say I’ve come a long way. And I have. But there’s one thing I’ve been wrestling with for two years that I haven’t been able to do. Every month that goes by gets added to the already ridiculous amount of time I’ve spent avoiding this this thing and it makes it even harder.

Two years ago I agreed to write a speech about how to normalize mental health problems. Since then, I’ve written draft after draft and thrown them all away. I’ve worked with storytellers, comedians, and professional speech coaches and I hate every word I’ve written. All I have to do is share my own story of dealing with depression and give people a few ideas on what I think will help make it easier to talk openly about mental health issues. For a guy who spends hours on stage telling personal stories this shouldn’t be a problem. But it is. It’s a big problem. It’s a problem because I’m stuck in “What if?”

What if someone takes my advice and gets hurt?

A big part of dealing with mental health problems is to stop pretending you don’t have one. But who am I to tell anyone to come out of the closet with their black dog in tow? What right do I have to tell anyone to take a chance and trust people?

I’m not worried about myself because I have a big mouth. If I hear someone say people with depression are weak, I’m more than happy to get in that person’s face and tell them what’s what. When I hear someone say that anyone who takes their own life is a coward, I joyfully start loading the verbal howitzer. It’s one of the few places in my life when I truly don’t care about the consequences. Too many people I love live with these things for me to not speak up about them.

But this speech, man. It’s got me running scared. This thing I gotta write, it’s not about getting angry and setting people straight. It’s about asking a stranger in an audience to have faith that admitting they struggle with depression can be the best thing they’ve ever done for themselves. Who am I to tell people how to handle their depression? And at the same time, who am I to assume they can’t handle what I say?

Now that I’ve said all that, I will tell you that I promised myself last week that I would finish this speech. I made that promise when I decided the theme for our next show was Taking Chances. Maybe if I heard some stories of you guys taking chances it’ll help me take one. So I hope some of you will come to Roy Street on Sept 27 and tell a story about a time when you took a chance. Your story doesn’t need to have a happy ending. It can be about a time when you took a chance and it didn’t work out. It just needs to be about taking that chance and what you learned from it.

Remember to keep it clean, practice out loud and on friends, and time yourself so you know it’s under 8 minutes.

Here are the rules and guidelines for telling a story with us:

https://freshgroundstories.com/2013/01/22/storytelling-rules-and-guidelines/

If you ever want help on a story I’m happy to do that. Feel free to email me or call if you like. I’ve had a number of people recently ask me for a good book on storytelling. This is my favorite:

https://www.amazon.com/Storyworthy-Engage-Persuade-through-Storytelling/dp/1608685489/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1530919320&sr=1-1&keywords=matthew+dicks

I hope to see you on Thursday, September 27, 7pm at Roy Street Coffee and Tea

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com

Thank you :)

Thank you all for coming out last week and bringing all that amazing energy. I don’t know what the particulate matter in the air was last Thursday but it sure put us all in a good mood. I enjoyed every second of this show. I’m glad so many of you got to be there and share that.

My notes for the show are buried in a bag in a closet so I’m going to do my best to remember the details. I’ve been telling bits and pieces of stories to friends at work today so some of your stories are still warm inside me.

One of my favorite things about FGS is that I hear things I never hear anywhere else. For instance, has anyone in your family ever punched a preacher? If you had been at Roy St last Thursday you would have found out what the consequences of that are. Also, if anyone from that night ever gets a tumor there’s a good chance they’ll nickname it Boomer the Tumor. I think more medical conditions should get nicknames. Personally, I’m looking forward to Drew the Flu and Jake the Ache.

Zoe told us about a moment of kindness she shared with Alan Arkin during an audition many years ago. I love hearing stories of celebrities being kind when no one is looking. Zoe held onto that memory for decades before sharing it with us that night. It shows you how much a few handwritten words on a piece of paper can mean to someone.

Maryanne shared a wonderful story about collecting bottle caps when she was a little girl hoping to win a contest so she could see Roy Rogers in person. What she discovered was that a TV cowboy couldn’t hold a candle to the real hero in her house, her dad. Now when I hear the song Happy Trails I get to think of Maryanne and her dad. That’s another thing I love about hearing your stories. When you share how you feel about a song or an object from your past it shapes my own feelings about those things. The next time Happy Trails comes on the radio I’m going to sing along like I always do but maybe a little softer and with a smile people wonder about. (if you’re curious what radio station I listen to that would play Happy Trails, you can tune in to KBRD 680AM and get an idea of what it’s like to be trapped in a car with me)

Gary’s story of falling in love with Glen Campbell’s music brought me back to the Fairview Manor Apartments in Fairbanks, AK in 1975 when I first heard Rhinestone Cowboy. Thank you, Gary, for reminding me of how much I loved that song and how it was one of the few bright spots in my life at that time. I never got to tell Glen that so I’m telling you.

Just before Gary told us about Glen Campbell, we heard a great story from first-timer Marie about how she fell in love with Li’l Abner. Actually, she fell in love with an actor who played Li’l Abner. Then, after a few blissful years of marriage, she found out L’il Abner was not being faithful. Only in Hollywood would L’il Abner do such a thing. Marie, I’m so glad you told that story and I hope that one day you’ll find an Alley Oop or a Popeye who will treat you right. In the meantime, please come back and tell more stories 🙂

I don’t want any more days to go by before I get this email out so I’m going to end with a quick thank you to two tellers whose stories snuck right into my heart. Bill’s story about the pointlessness of suffering hit me on a lot of levels. It was a brave, redemptive story of how important it is to make amends and then do what you can to bring joy to the world. I hope he tells it again someday so more people have a chance to hear it. It’s a story everyone needs to hear, some of us more than once.

David’s story about holding a divorce ceremony on the beach with his ex-wife was so incredibly touching, I don’t even know what to say. I know he was nervous walking up to that microphone knowing how honest and vulnerable he was about to be. I’m glad he did it. And I’m grateful that everyone in the audience was there to support him.

Thanks to all the tellers who shared stories that night but special thanks goes to my son, Taran. He surprised me with a beautiful story about the last time he said goodbye to his grandmother. I was there that night and the next morning when we found her passed away. It was the first time my son had gone through something like that. I was proud of how he acted then and I’m proud of how he’s dealing with it now. Watching my son grow through the stories he tells has been one of the greatest things this show has given me. Thanks for making nights like this happen.

Our next show is September 27. The theme is Taking a Chance. I’ll get the invite out as soon as I can. I hope to see a bunch of you there.

Take care,

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com

Stories to hold you over until Thursday :)

Hi Folks,

Just a reminder that the next FGS show is around the corner. The theme is “So Long! – Stories of saying goodbye”

FGS: So long! – Stories of saying goodbye

Thursday, Aug 23, 2018, 7:00 PM

Roy Street Coffee & Tea
700 Broadway East – Seattle, WA

40 Story Fans Attending

in 2005, the right side of my body began to go numb. I got tested for all kinds of diseases and conditions, underwent two MRIs, and saw chiropractors and massage therapists, but no one could figure out what was wrong. As a single parent, I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on health care, so I decided to just limp around and learn to live with wh…

Check out this Meetup →

While you’re waiting for Thursday to roll around you can listen to three amazing stories from our show that made it onto the KNKX Sound Effect podcast. I pasted small blurbs from the Sound Effect website to give you a taste of what each story is about 🙂

“He didn’t know it at the time, but that experience would pave the way for Cossum’s new line of work once he returned to the States: He became a phone sex operator. And if that sounds like a departure from the life of a soldier, there’s one more thing you ought to know: Cossum would offer phone sex in the voice and persona of a woman. “

http://www.knkx.org/post/war-zone-soldier-found-his-calling-phone-sex-operator

“While Hawkins had gone through basic training, his role was supposed to be documenting the war, not fighting it. But around Thanksgiving 1967, Rich found himself right in the middle of the storm.

Listen to the story, and hear how Hawkins came to the conclusion that for people to be prepared to die for something they were against is an example of how the system works.”

http://www.knkx.org/post/veterans-willingness-die-was-example-how-system-works

“Wolfe wanted children. But when he went to a sperm donor clinic, he didn’t expect that he’d end up with seventeen.”

http://www.knkx.org/post/super-sperm-donor-meets-newborn-daughter-then-has-let-her-go

Lastly, if you’re curious about the story I told in front of my friends from high school who showed at Roy Street last month, you can listen to it here:

Thank you all for being a part of FGS. This show means a lot to people and I appreciate everyone who comes out to either share a story or supports the folks who do. Meetup doesn’t let me put emojis in these emails but if it did there would be a big heart right here.

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com

FGS: So long! – Stories of saying goodbye

in 2005, the right side of my body began to go numb. I got tested for all kinds of diseases and conditions, underwent two MRIs, and saw chiropractors and massage therapists, but no one could figure out what was wrong. As a single parent, I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on health care, so I decided to just limp around and learn to live with whatever was wrong with me.

A few months after the problem began, I started dating a woman who’d recently been through a difficult divorce. Why she decided to go out with a man whose foot flopped about and whose arm dropped off the chair, I’ll never know.

Despite my growing affection for her, I hesitated to tell her how I felt. She had two kids who were struggling with their new living arrangements and a small business that kept her at work sixty-plus hours a week. She didn’t need to deal with my problems too.

One night we were lying in bed together, and I was in worse shape than usual. I had to tuck my hand underneath me just to keep my arm from falling over the side. Sensing my pain, she took my head in her hands and said, “You know I love you, right?”

My body suddenly went stiff, my right leg seized up, and the back of my skull radiated with pain. I felt like I had just grabbed both ends of live jumper cables. A second later, when I started breathing again, without thinking, I whispered, “I love you too.” And just as quickly all the pain disappeared. The symptoms never came back. It was one of the most profound moments of my life.

Five years later that woman was gone. I remember standing on her porch on New Year’s Day, watching her close the door as she whispered, “I can’t see you anymore.” I’ll never forget the quiet, solid click of that door.

Those two moments are more than just memories to me. They’re part of my emotional DNA. If I had another kid tomorrow she would grow up with those memories inside her without me ever saying a word. Until recently, I would have traded those memories for anything. I would have sold them for a nickel. I would have traded them for a sandwich. They were two of a thousand moments I wish I hadn’t lived through.

But it occurred to me today that it’s not the memories that hurt it’s what they represent. They represent a life I had for a while but couldn’t keep. My heart is full of moments like these and they all remind me of something I loved and then lost. What if I found a way to keep those moments but let go of all the painful things they represent?

I was struggling all day today trying to figure out how I could do that when I suddenly realized that I had just done it last Thursday. I told a story about a time I spent gasping for air in the ER thinking I was going to die. It turned out to be the most transformative story I’ve ever told. When I said the last line, 35 years of anger washed through me. I’ve never felt so clean after telling a story.

Maybe storytelling is a way to say goodbye to something without getting rid of it. Maybe stories are like little washing machines you can put all those terrible memories in and a few weeks later they come out as shiny little moments that don’t hurt anymore. I used to think of storytelling as a way to pull painful things out of my heart and give them away as stories. Now I’m starting to think that maybe I don’t have to empty out my heart to move on. Maybe I can keep all the moments that made me who I am and just say goodbye to the loss they represent.

Luckily, saying goodbye is what our next show is all about. Bring a story about a time you had to say goodbye to something. It could be a person, a place, a job, a belief, just about anything. Make sure it has a beginning, middle, and an end and that you can tell it in under 8 minutes. Remember to keep it clean, practice out loud as much as possible, and run it by friends if you can. Those are the best ways I know to tighten up a story and figure out where to make changes. And you can always call or write me if you need any help.

The show is August 23, at 7pm, at Roy Street Coffee and Tea.

Here are the rules and guidelines for telling a story if you haven’t seen them in a while. https://freshgroundstories.com/2013/01/22/storytelling-rules-and-guidelines/

See you on the 23rd!

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com