FGS: Jumping In – Stories of facing the unknown

Next month’s theme is “Jumping In – Stories of facing the unknown.” The show is Thursday, May 16, 7pm, at our new location in the Olive Way Starbucks.

Let me say right off the bat that I’m not a big fan of jumping into anything. I’m more of a tiptoe guy. If you want me to jump off a cliff into the ocean I’m going to spend the next three days reading all the Yelp reviews of the cliff, and then I’m going to check out all the Amazon reviews for every tide, clam, crab, and fish.

I have this old belief I’m trying to get rid of that every mistake I make will have huge consequences. It doesn’t matter if I’m cliff diving in Cancun or going with four stars at the new Thai place downtown. I’m convinced if I commit to the wrong thing that the sky will fall, souls will burn, and a plague will come down upon the earth. And that’s just me in Fred Meyer trying to choose between Ragu and Prego.

Luckily, I have some good friends who constantly remind me that none of my mistakes have ever led to permanent, unalterable tragedy. Twenty-five years ago I moved from Alaska to Washington to pursue a dream. And even though there were times when I had to eat at the homeless shelter I’ve never regretted the move. Recently, I realized that every woman I’ve loved is still kind to me even though the relationships didn’t work out. I think anyone who can put on his tombstone, “He was not hated by his exes” must be doing ok. Three months ago I made a commitment to keep this show going even though we were losing the venue we’d been at for nine years. After two months of frantic Googling and panicked phone calls, I decided to jump in and call Olive Way our new home. Based on our first show there last week I’m incredibly grateful I made that leap.

But that’s the kind of story we’re looking for. Bring a story about a time when you said yes to the scary thing and jumped in with both feet. What happened? Did it work out for you? Were you grateful you trusted the universe or did you instantly regret it?

Remember to practice your story on friends, and time yourself to make sure it’s under 8 minutes. Keep it clean and make sure it has a beginning, middle, and end. Here are the rules and guidelines in case you haven’t read them in a while.


I change them occasionally so it’s good to review them now and then.

The link below leads you to a great monthly workshop if you want to get some feedback on your story. It’s low-key, casual, and free. What more could you ask for?


See you all on the 16th at the Olive Way Starbucks!

1600 E Olive Way Seattle, WA 98102





Thank you!

It’s three days after our last show and I’m still wobbly from all the love everyone brought to our new home. Ever since I found out in January that Roy St was closing I’ve been worried what a change in venue would do to FGS. According to my sleep journal, I’ve lost 2,475 hours of sleep worrying about this. I’m happy to report that I’ve had the best two nights’ sleep of 2019 and it’s all because of everyone who showed up at Olive Way Thursday. Thank you!

Without a doubt, the best thing about our new venue is the staff. From Ben The Manager, to Craig The Shift Manager, to Tara The Barista, every single Starbucks employee made me feel welcome and appreciated. Even the district manager came over to thank me for bringing FGS to Olive Way. I was speechless when Ben presented me and Maryanne (Auntmama’s Stortytable also moved to Olive Way) a beautiful orchid to officially welcome us to his store. I’ve done shows in 20+ states and I’ve never seen staff as excited and grateful as this. I’m pretty sure you guys felt it too since one of you yelled out during the show, “Their tip jar isn’t big enough!” Yes, please, please, please keep tipping the great people who work there. They were a big part of that magical night.

Of course, none of this could have happened without all the tellers that walked up to the mic that night. I could tell every one of them practiced their story not only because they were well-told but because no one went over time. That may have been a first for us! Thank you all for the time you put into crafting your stories. During the show, I said that the most important person in the room was the audience. It’s true. Without them, we’re just talking to ourselves.

There’s no way I can describe all the stories from that night but I would like to mention a few. One of the biggest laughs we got was from first-timer Sara who told us how she discovered she didn’t have a sense of smell. She must have grown up in a family full of laughter because when her dad and brother first heard she couldn’t smell they immediately went out and brought home some Taco Bell burritos to test that claim. I’d love to send Sara her story but she left before I could talk to her. If anyone knows Sara from Chicago please tell her to get in touch with me. I’d love to get permission to put her story on our website and Facebook page.

Connie told a sweet story about how she bonded with her cousin Evan who has special needs. It turns out that patience, love, and M&Ms can bring almost anyone together 🙂

Bruce told my new favorite Bruce story about the time he staged a protest outside his Catholic grade school because of the amount of homework they were giving out. I’m always touched when we hear a story from something that happened 60 years ago. As funny as that story was, what I remember most was being happy that Bruce finally had a place to share it.

Our final teller, Taryn, told a beautiful story about how her grandmother showed her the importance of jumping into life. I was so moved by her story that as I walked onstage afterward I decided next month’s theme was going to be, “Jumpin In.” I’ll do my best to get her permission to post that story. I think it’s something we all need to hear.

Before I tell you about the special thing that happened at the end of our show I want to let you know that there’s another great show coming up at Olive Way next Thursday.

Maryanne Moorman, also known as Auntmama, is now holding her show on the last Thursday of each month at Olive Way. It’s a great place for stories, essays, poems, music, and other stuff that doesn’t fit into the FGS format. I hope a bunch of you can join me there this Thursday. Maryanne and I would love for Olive Way to be the place to go for storytelling in Seattle.



In order to commemorate the first show in our new home, I asked one of my favorite tellers to close the show with his TED talk on the importance of strangers in our lives. It’s the only time I’ve ever allowed a speech at FGS but the topic perfectly fit what we do there so I decided to allow it this one time.

One thing of the most surprising things I’ve learned from running this show is how happy it makes me feel to see our regular audience members walk through the door. Even if someone has never told a story, it makes me happy to see a familiar face walk in. Knowing certain people are going to join me in listening to stories makes me feel like I belong. Until I talked to Nathan about his upcoming TED talk, I thought I was the only one who felt this way. When he told me what he was working on I knew I wanted him to share it at our first show. Judging by the cheers and applause he got I think I made the right choice. Thank you, Nathan, for sharing that wonderful talk with us.

If you’d like to see him give it live, May 4, at the upcoming TED show at the UW click on the link below:


That’s all for now. Next month’s show is May 16th, The theme is “Jumping In.” I’ll get the official invite out as soon as I can.

See you then!


See you this Thursday!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re all having a great weekend. I just wanted to send you a quick reminder about our show coming up next Thursday in our new location – the Olive Way Starbucks. If you’ve ever wanted to see what I look like when I’m unreasonably nervous and filled with self-doubt you should come to this show 🙂

I’m not a big fan of change. Any change, really. Spare change, loose change, change of heart. Even changing the sheets on my bed seems overwhelming sometimes. Can you imagine the pressure I feel being the change I want to see in the world??

Luckily, Ben The Manager (actual name) is excited to have us and that means a lot. He loves what we’ve done with storytelling in Seattle. He met a lot of cool people (that means you) at our last show and is looking forward to our first show at his place. He promised to stock up on scones so I’m definitely giving away a Scone of Courage that night.

So come out and see our new digs. Figure out what your new favorite seat will be. Watch me as I try to decide where to put the couches and how close to the fireplace we’ll stand.

In the meantime, here’s a great article that just came out in the Seattle Times about the show. I hope the reporter comes back and tells some stories with us 🙂


This is an excellent free newsletter with lots of good advice on telling personal stories

Here’s the link to this month’s FGS theme if you need a refresher

Hope to see you there!



Oddballs – Stories of being on the outside

Next month’s theme is “Oddballs – Stories of being on the outside.” The show is April 18, 7pm, at our new location in the Olive Way Starbucks.

We did a similar theme back in 2015 called Fish Out of Water. I think enough time has gone by that we can do it again as I’m sure we’ve all been in some wonderfully uncomfortable situations since then. That’s the great and scary thing about life. There are always new ways to find out how you don’t fit in. In 2015, I wrote about what it was like growing up as the son of a Baha’i missionary in Alaska. I don’t know that I’ve felt quite as much like an outsider as that recently but I’ve definitely discovered some people and places where I didn’t fit in.

A few years ago a girlfriend left me because I was “too east coast.” I was sad, but at the same time had to laugh since I’ve never lived anywhere near the east coast. I was born and raised in Alaska and have never lived east of Washington. I guess if your mother grew up in Brooklyn, there will always be a tiny little New Yorker inside you trying to get out.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking I probably have a story in me somewhere about being the only kid in my neighborhood who didn’t get high. I definitely missed out on some underground bonding during those years. Another part of me wants to write a story about how uncomfortable it is to be the only person I know who never had an extended family growing up. It’s always strange to me to hear friends talk about aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and grandparents. All those relatives are theoretical for me. They’re out there somewhere but only in faded address books and anonymous DNA samples. The history of my family has only reached me through sporadic Google searches and the occasional cousin finding me through Facebook. I could be in a room with every living relative left on earth and not be able to identify a single one of them.

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a Ray Bradbury story. Often, when I leave my apartment I feel like I’m stepping out of a rocket ship that just landed on a forgotten planet. I might make friends with some blue tentacled space monkeys, but to them, I’ll always be the guy from earth who crashed in their crater and made the best of it.

But that’s the kind of story we’re looking for. Bring a story about a time when you didn’t fit in. It could be the first time you realized you were different from everyone around you or it could from later in life when you found yourself suddenly alone in a sea of other humans who didn’t understand you. What made you realize you were different? How did you deal with it? How do you feel about it now?

Remember to practice your story on friends, and time yourself to make sure it’s under 8 minutes. Keep it clean and make sure it has a beginning, middle, and end. Here are the rules and guidelines in case you haven’t read them in a while.


I change them occasionally so it’s good to review them now and then.

The link below leads you to a great monthly workshop if you want to get some feedback on your story. It’s low-key, casual, and free. What more could you ask for?


See you all on the 18th at the Olive Way Starbucks!
1600 E Olive Way Seattle, WA 98102


Thank you :)

Thank you all for another wonderful night of stories. It was a great way to say farewell to Roy Street and hello to our new home on Olive Way. Ben The New Manager is so happy to have us that he showed up Thursday and helped me set up the room so he could get an idea of what we’ll need at his place. That is the mark of someone who understands what we’re doing and genuinely wants to support us. Thank you, Ben!

Gabe Spitzer of NPR’s Sound Effect (88.5 FM) was also in the audience that night. He’s always on the lookout for new stories to air so don’t be surprised if some of the folks you saw onstage that night end up on the radio. I love that we have a way to get some of our stories out to a bigger audience. We have some fantastic writers and tellers at FGS who absolutely belong on the radio.

I let the show go long on this night because we had so many first-timers and I wanted to make sure they all got a chance to tell. If the show keeps growing I might have to update my rule of always getting first-timers onstage. Ninety-minutes is the perfect length for our show so I’ll have to start bumping first-timers as well as regulars if we keep filling up Mr. Coffee with names. It’s very important to practice your story out loud at home and make sure it’s under 8 minutes. We had a lot of tellers go long last week so I can’t stress this enough.

Remember, if you get bumped at FGS there are other great shows where you can tell stories:
Auntmama’s Storytable https://www.maryannemoorman.com/upcoming-live-events (this Thursday!)
North Seattle Stories https://www.meetup.com/North-Seattle-Storytelling-Meetup/
The Moth https://themoth.org/events
Something To Tell (Tacoma) https://www.meetup.com/Something-To-Tell/Complete list of Seattle story events https://www.facebook.com/groups/198209904060632/Seattle Storytellers Guild http://seattlestorytellers.org/ssg/home.html

General resources for learning to tell stories:
Excellent newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/104f63f44a5a/you-should-be-able-to-answer-this-question-before-ever-telling-your-story?e=a4dd06ea14

Best book I’ve read on storytelling:

I’m also happy to support anyone who wants to start their own storytelling meetup/show. One of our new tellers is thinking of starting a show for longer stories. If you’d like to help her out send me your email and I’ll put you in touch.

I don’t want this email to go on too long but I do want to share a couple of stories from last Thursday that really touched me. Both were from first-timers. Brandon told a sweet story about finally getting into a play in elementary school and then realizing the costume he had to wear would reveal his cancer scars. I could hear the entire audience react when he revealed that onstage. It was a soft, vulnerable moment that is everything I look for in a story. Even more amazing was that it was only the second time Brandon had ever been onstage. Thank you for that story, Brandon. I look forward to hearing more from you.

The other first-timer I want to tell you about is Matt. His story of discovering art as a young man and how it led him to being open to discoveries later in life about himself was fantastic. I hope he gives me permission to post it on our website. His last line brought a sigh and then a roar of applause from the audience. We found out later that he worked on that story at our monthly workshop and that made me twice as happy. There’s a craft to storytelling and each one of us has a great opportunity to learn that craft at the free workshop Dave and Chad hold every month at the Fremont library. Matt, thank you for putting in the work to make that such a great story. I can’t wait to see what you come up with in the future. I hope to see you at our new home.

Here’s the link to that workshop: https://www.meetup.com/Fresh-Ground-Stories-Storytelling-Workshop/

Our next show is, Thursday, April 18. The theme is “Oddballs – Stories of not fitting in.”

We did a similar theme back in 2015 and I think it’s time to do it again. I’ll get the official invite out in a few days so look for that in your inbox.

Here’s the link to our new location:

Thanks again to everyone who told a story that night and to all the people who supported them from the audience.

See you on the 18th!