FGS: Starting Over – Stories of moving forward

February’s theme is, “ Starting Over – Stories of moving forward.” There are so many ways I could describe how we’re starting over with our in-person shows. It’s a new year, in a new venue, with new tellers, and no Zoom links. Usually, I dread starting over in any part of life but I’m excited about this because of all the new people we’ll meet and the new stories we’ll hear.

Since we’re all trying to figure out how to move forward after the pandemic, I think it’ll be good to hear stories of how we’ve moved forward from other big things. Have you had to regroup and move forward after the end of a relationship? Getting fired from a job? The death of someone you couldn’t live without but had to? Maybe your kids moved out or you found yourself alone with no purpose. Did you ever end up in a new city and had to make new friends as an adult? What was the moment when you realized you had to suck it up and get going? Come tell a story about a time when you had to start over and what you learned about yourself in the process.

Remember to practice your story out loud on as many people as possible and time yourself when you’re doing it. All stories have to be under 8 minutes. Stories can be as short as you want but not over 8 minutes. Stories also have to be clean in both language and content. Send me an email if you have any questions about that.

The rest of the rules and guidelines are below: https://freshgroundstories.com/2013/01/22/storytelling-rules-and-guidelines/

Workshops are a great way to get feedback on a story you’re working on. Here is one I highly recommend. It’s run by two people who have told many times at FGS and other shows in the area:  https://www.meetup.com/Fresh-Ground-Stories-Storytelling-Workshop/

I’m also happy to help anyone with a story they’re working on. Send me an email and we can set up a phone call.

See you on Thursday, February 16th at 7 pm at the Chabad of Queen Anne – Magnolia! 1825 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109 (Remember, no non-kosher food in the building)

Paul Freshgroundstories at gmail dot com


Thank you!

We did it! We had our first in-person show since last year and it was great. The place was packed and the energy was fantastic. Do you even remember what it was like to hang out in a room full of people and listen to stories? Studies say it’s 1,852 times better than watching on Zoom. We had just enough chairs for everyone that night so now I’m out hunting down used folding chairs and will have more seating by the time our February 16 show rolls around. Super special thanks to Rabbi Shnai who surprised us with beer and babka! So much kosher goodness!

Maryanne started us off with a story about adopted families, Virginia Jews, kosher kitchens, washing dishes in a river, and a flock of ducks. I can’t think of a better way to open our new venue than with a story that bobs and weaves its way through all those things and 50 years of friendship. Thank you, Maryanne.

Aaron, a first-timer, was up next with a story on everything you do to avoid being with your family at a wedding. Was the term love/hate invented for families? Aaron got to put one over on his family and drive off into the sunset before they figured it out. Sometimes that’s the best you can hope for.

Ashley was next with a story that solved the age-old riddle of “how do you crash a hang glider without leaving the ground?” Luckily, she only ended up hog-tied and terrified so she got to live to tell the story. I’d love to do a show one day about near-death experiences. Do we have enough people to do a whole show on that? Let me know if you have a story like that and I’ll see if we can get a whole evening out of it.

Laura was up next with a story of everything a teenage girl does when trying to avoid her dad on a family vacation. Who knew that the theme of “Lessons we didn’t want to learn” would end up with so many stories about family? It was great to see Laura again after we shared the stage at Locally Fameless last year. FGS is a great place to practice stories that you’re telling other places. I love the crossover we have with other shows in the PNW.

Gretchen was next with a story from grade school when she went into a “coiffure-induced trance” and did her best not to take her blunt-nosed scissors and snip off a ringlet of the girl who sat in front of her. I must admit, I too have been mesmerized by certain people’s hair, although I never had the nerve to take any of it home with me. The big lesson from Gretchen’s story was never let your mom find out what you did at school. I still remember the fear that would take hold of me when any adult said, “I’m going to call your mother.” It was even scarier than hearing, “Wait till your father gets home.” 

Jeremy, another first-timer, told one of the most beautiful stories we’ve ever heard at FGS. It was about being with his father who was slowly dying from cancer and the moments and stories they shared together. I hope all of us can be as content in our final days as Jeremy’s father was. Both of my parents died before they got their stories out.. I hope I’ve shared enough stories with my son so that I’m gone he won’t feel like his father was a mystery

David then went up and told a wonderful story about being abandoned by his traveling nurse. How did that all come about? Well, you should have been there. All I’ll say is that I love a story that ends with a surprise thank you. Imagine how happy we’d be if we all tried to figure out a way to be grateful for the bad times.

Mary shared a story that we could all see was hard for her to talk about. It was about a robbery that happened at the Shakey’s she worked at many years ago and the guilt she held onto about it. I hope telling that story helped her. One of the most powerful things about storytelling is that it allows us to decide what our experiences mean and how those stories end. It gives us power when we feel powerless. That’s why this show is one of the most important things in my life. I get reminded of the power and need for this kind of storytelling every month.

Next up was our final first-timer, Sanjay. He told a story full of humor, humility, and self-reflection. Afterward, we all decided that he needed to come to everyone’s jobsite and teach our bosses how to listen and lead. Thank you, Sanjay, for making me believe that there are people out there who know how to lead with insight and integrity.

Melissa was our final teller with the story of how she moved her parents to Seattle from the midwest. Did she almost kill her father with an oyster? Of course, she did. But what’s a story without a little anaphylactic shock? Thank you, Melissa, for sharing a story of equal parts love and frustration. I think that’s about the ratio all of us have when it comes to family.

Speaking of family, Melissa has been part of our FGS family for quite a while and I’m happy to announce she just published a great book on storytelling for business. If you had seen her tell last Thursday you’d know that she’s a pro. I’m halfway through the book and can happily recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to lead better through storytelling. It’s a full-length book available on Kindle. Get it!

Thanks again to everyone who came out and especially all the people who talked with me after the show. Making friends and having conversations is a big part of FGS and we’re lucky we have time to meet and get to know each other at our new venue.

Next month’s theme is “Starting Over.” I’ll get the invite out as soon as I can.

See you on the 16th!



See you tomorrow!

I hope to see a bunch of you tomorrow at our first in-person show in a long time!

The show starts at 7 pm at the Chabad of Queen Anne – Magnolia. The address is 1825 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109. The one rule we all must follow is to not bring any non-kosher food inside the building. In the words of the rabbi, eat the ham sandwich before you come and you’ll be fine.

We have 64 signed up to attend so we might run short of chairs. Feel free to bring a folding chair for yourself if you can. I’m bringing a few extra because I know most of us don’t have spare folding chairs sitting around the house. 

I’ll be telling a story myself so if you’ve never heard me tell this would be a good time to come out. We also have a special guest opening the show. Aunt Mama is leaving her forest hideaway to help us celebrate this in-person show. She’s an amazing teller so don’t come late as she’ll be the first one up.

If you want to see where we’ll be holding a special FGS later this year you can come out to the performance space she built on her property in Kingston. I’ll be there this Sunday listening to some beautiful music: https://www.facebook.com/AuntmamaStage3/

See you tomorrow at Queen Anne!


Freshgroundstories at Gmail dot com

Good news!

We have a new home for FGS! We’ll start holding our in-person shows at the Chabad of Queen Anne – Magnolia on January 19th. It’s not a permanent home since it won’t hold the 80-120 people we were getting at our pre-pandemic shows. But it’s a good place for now and has enough parking. Has anyone ever said that about a Seattle venue??

The room is upstairs at the Chabad (synagogue) and should fit 40-50 people. Masks are optional but there is one rule we must follow without question. We can’t bring any non-kosher food into the building, or even kosher food that was prepared in a non-kosher kitchen. Coffee and tea are fine to bring into the building. Since there are a number of places to eat within a block or two, the easiest thing to do will be to just eat before you come. If you aren’t sure what you can bring just send me an email and I’ll ask the rabbi. The advice he gave me when I visited was, “Just eat the ham sandwich before you get here and you’ll be ok.” It’s good to have a rabbi with a sense of humor 🙂

The address is 1825 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109 if you want to drive by and see the neighborhood. There’s on-street parking within a couple blocks which should be enough for us.

I’d love this show to be packed with tellers so bring any story you want to share as long as it follows all the usual FGS rules.

It can also be on the official theme of “Hard Knocks – Stories of lessons you didn’t want to learn.”


Special thanks to Renata for introducing me to the Chabad and helping to move things along.

Email me at freshgroundstories at Gmail dot com if you have any questions.

See you on the 19th!



December’s show is cancelled due to storyworthy 24 hours

Hi Everyone,

I’ve had an exciting 24 hours here at Castle Currington. My toilet blew up last night, flooded the bathroom, and then went ahead and flooded the basement. Carpenters and insurance agents have been called but the house is a mess and half of it is without electricity.

So…I have to cancel this month’s show. I have shop vacs to return, towels to dry, and 100’ extension cords to stretch through the house for power. Luckily, I haven’t fallen through the floor in the bathroom yet, but if I do I’ll have a great story for the January show on the 19th. We’ll keep the same theme “Hard Knocks – Stories of lessons you didn’t want to learn” but I’m also opening it up to any theme you want as long as it follows the standard FGS rules.

Here’s the invite that I’ll be changing the date on later tonight: https://www.meetup.com/fresh-ground-stories/events/289979741/

In the meantime, we’ve got a couple of great workshops coming in January if you’d like some help on a story 🙂

FGS monthly workshop with the amazing Dave and Colleen: Sunday, January 8 (online) https://www.meetup.com/fresh-ground-stories-storytelling-workshop/events/290167733/

If you miss Dave and Colleen’s workshop you can come to one I’m doing in Burien on January 11 for the wonderful folks at 7 Stories and they’re allowing FGS folks to join us. There’s only room for 12 so email 7stories@burienculturehub.org if you’d like to bring a story to work on.

I hope you’re all having a great holiday and that you don’t find a new toilet under the tree 🙂

See you in January!


freshgroundstories at gmail dot com