See you this Thursday!

Hi Everyone,

Our next show is coming up in a couple days. I hope you can make it. We have a special guest teller who will be closing the show that night. I saw her tell a story in Tacoma at the Something To Tell show and I ran right up to her afterward and asked her to tell it at FGS. She’s new to storytelling but she’s off to a great start. I hope she becomes a regular. Also, her name is Taryn which is very close to my son’s name, Taran. Clearly, the gods of storytelling were guiding me to that little coffee shop in on Fawcett Street 🙂

In the meantime, you can listen to the story below. It’s from Jason Schmidt, a guy I tried to get to come to FGS but he moved across the country earlier this year and we lost out.

This is one of those stories that makes me get really quiet when I hear it. It brings up an old memory of me and my son when he was 7, and we were in a similar situation. I know exactly how this storyteller’s dad was feeling in this story. Fear, shame, and disbelief. Those were the big three emotions I had to work through in order to turn things around.

I don’t know what happened to Jason’s dad in the years since this story. I hope he lived long enough to make better stories with his son. I hope he got to see how great his son turned out to be.

See you all this Thursday at Roy Street



Shows and workshops coming up

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick reminder about some opportunities coming up to both hear and tell stories.

1. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Washington State is hosting The Brainpower Chronicles: Mental Health Stories, NAMI Washington’s annual storytelling event. This is one of those shows where you get to see how storytelling can make a difference in the world.

This year they have two performances: Saturday, November 10 at 7pm and Sunday, November 11 at 2pm.

The show is directed by FGS regular Bill Bernat, and features six women sharing their stories of how they’ve been affected by mental illness and their journeys toward recovery. Bill Radke, host of KUOW-FM‘s The Record and Week In Review will be the emcee for the November 10 show.

Discounted tickets are available for those with a limited income; please call Tom Lane at 206-971-1596 or Please don’t be shy about emailing Tom. We want everyone to have an opportunity to see this show.

2. If you see the NAMI show (or come to the FGS show on the 15th) and are wondering how you could learn to tell your own story then I highly recommend Bill Bernat’s workshop, Storymorphosis. Bill used this method of teaching to help each teller at the NAMI show prepare their story. I’ve seen him hold workshops before and he does a great job. Below is the text I lifted from one of his announcements:

Storymorphosis:  Have fun crafting and telling a story about something that changed you for the better. Interactive half day workshop Nov 17 ($50) with FGS regular, TED speaker, and Moth Radio Hour storyteller Bill Bernat. Details at

3. If you’re an experienced storyteller and would like to tell at next year’s Folklife festival get your application in soon. The deadline is December 1. I might apply for this myself and it would be great to share the stage with other FGS tellers.

4. And finally, there’s a wonderful peer-driven workshop coming up on December 2 that’s run by another FGS regular Dave Kreimer. It’s a friendly, low-key event that I have always found helpful when I’m working on a story. I always love it when I see Dave throw his name in the hat at FGS and I’m glad he’s offering this opportunity to help people get their own stories together. Dave sent me the info below so I could let everyone know about it.

FGS Storytelling Workshop

Seattle, WA
319 storytellers

This is a free workshop inspired by Fresh Ground Stories, a monthly storytelling event open to all. The format will be simple: Bring a story up to 7 minutes long, tell it, get…

Next Meetup

Storytelling Workshop

Sunday, Dec 2, 2018, 1:00 PM
5 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

It does not require a village to craft a story, but it is helpful to have one!

Until you tell your story to an audience it is hard to know:
– How listeners will react
– How you will feel when telling it

This peer-driven storytelling workshop format provides the opportunity to tell your story to a supportive group and to get instant feedback.
– Not sure if you can tell a story? Try it, sitting at a table with a few other friendly folks.
– Not sure if you can provide meaningful feedback? Sharing your personal reaction is all that is required.

Plus, Matthew Dicks, an increasingly well-known storyteller through his book, podcast and blog provides some excellent information. A note sheet of the top few things he recommends considering when crafting a story will be provided and we will see to what extent it helps us all to become better storytellers.

Bring a story that you would like to possibly tell on stage at a storytelling event like The Moth or Fresh Ground Stories. Your story should be 8 minutes or less. It can be written, outlined or in your head.

Come and have a great time listening to and telling stories with other motivated tellers.

That’s all I have for now. Let me know if you have any questions. See you on the 15th!


No Regrets – Stories of unexpected gratitude. Or…

November’s theme is “No Regrets – Stories of unexpected gratitude.” You could also go with, “Things you should regret but don’t.” They’re sorta the same but also kind of the opposite. I like that.

For the last few years, I’ve spent a good part of every week at the local gym trying to keep age and decay at bay. I know it’s futile, but self-delusion is an important part of my personal maintenance routine. Going to the gym has also had an interesting effect on how people treat me. There’s a big difference between how I’m perceived when I weigh a slender 170 lbs compared to a muscular 210 lbs.

For the first time in my life, I look like a guy you’d call when you need to move a couch. Even my close friends treat me differently. Men and woman both grab my arms and shoulders to see how thick they are now. I don’t mind it but it’s always surprising because for most of my life no one paid any attention to my body. You could make the case that one of the reasons I learned to be funny was to keep people from focusing on my physical shortcomings. I don’t know what playgrounds are like these days but when I was growing up being a skinny male in any grade was no treat. High school was the worst but college was similar. Being physically strong plays a big role in where you stand in the male landscape.

Now that I’m physically bigger, even alpha males are giving me respect. Last year I was working out in the gym one day when one of the biggest guys in the room motioned me over to the bench press. Just for a second, I flashed back to high school and half-expected him to put me in a headlock. When I got up to him, he said something no one had ever said to me.

“Can you spot me?”

It felt like the clouds had parted and Zeus and flown down from Mt Olympus to place the Pelt of the Gods on my shoulders. Is there such a thing as the Pelt of the Gods? I have no idea. If there is, then I was definitely wearing it. Having the biggest dude in the gym ask me to spot him was my testicular Bar Mitzvah. I was now a man.

I didn’t realize it at the moment but when I got into position, I saw that he had 315 lbs on the bar. I’ve never moved anything that weighed over 300 lbs that didn’t have the word Steinway on it. This was a metal bar with six iron plates on it that would be moving up and down over this guy’s head. My job was to keep it from falling on him if he ran out of steam. Before I could figure a way out of this, he let out a giant grunt and started pushing the bar up and down over his chest. Ten reps later he set the bar back in the rack and sat up. He was so strong I didn’t even have to touch the bar.

I muttered “good job” and stepped away from the bench heading back to the human-sized weights I was using on the other side of the gym.

“Hold on,” he said. “I got another set to do.” Then he got up and added two 25 lb plates on the bar. Now he was up to 365. Dear god, if this guy needs me to lift 365 lbs off his neck he’s a dead man. I finally get my man pelt and now I’m going to lose it because Spartacus wants to set a new PR?

So I get in position again. He lifts the bar off the rack and gets all the way to the sixth rep when he starts to shake and struggle. I reach down to grab the bar and he yells, “DON’T TOUCH IT!” I yank my hands back and he barely gets the bar over the hooks to rack it.

“That was good, man,” I said as I backed away from the bar that was still vibrating.

“One more set,” the guy says and he gets up and replaces the 25 lb plates with 45 lb plates. WE ARE NOW UP TO 405 LBS! This guy thinks I can save him from being crushed under a 405 lb barbell and I can’t say anything because I finally have the Pelt of the Gods! I’m pretty sure if you walk away from a spot request they take your pelt away. The question is, will they take the pelt away if the guy you’re spotting just flat out dies during the lift? This question seems both ridiculous and incredibly important. Because I still remember the name of every bully who pushed me into a locker or knocked me to the ground, I puff out my chest, walk over to the bar and say, “Whenever you’re ready, man.”

They guy does two reps, gives me a “thanks, brother” and starts putting the weights away. I walk to the locker room feeling proud, strong, and a little ashamed. I had just put a guy in danger because I couldn’t admit that I wasn’t strong enough to lift a bunch of metal off his chest if something went wrong. Is that what it means to be a man? Are we willing to die or let people get hurt to save face?

The locker room was pretty full and I had to walk around a few guys to get to my locker. I had just pulled my shorts off when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and was face to face with a chubby sweaty guy who said, “Hey, who’s the English guy that sings-” and then he started singing “It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone. It’s not unusual to have fun with anyone.”

Everyone in the locker room froze. I don’t know if this is common knowledge but you’re not supposed to sing to anyone in the locker room. At least not the men’s locker room. The cast of Glee could be serenading each other in the woman’s locker room but in the men’s locker room no one sings. Especially not to each other. Especially not when one of you is standing there in his underwear.

I could sense the tension in the room. How I reacted to this guy singing “It’s Not Unusual” directly at me was going to affect how I was treated in the gym for as long as I went there. I thought about Zeus. I thought about the Pelt of the Gods. I thought about how long I’d wanted to look like a man in front of other men.

And then I thought, “I love that song.” So I puffed out my chest and said, “It’s Tom Jones and actually he’s Welsh.”

Then I belted out, “What’s new pussycat, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa…” And the guy answered with, “She’s a lady, whoa, whoa, whoa, she’s a lady. Talkin’ about my little lady….”

Not only did we sing Tom Jones’ greatest hits we also danced like Tom Jones which means anyone under 30 probably thought we were having separate but simultaneous seizures. It was one of the best times I’d had in months. By the end of our medley, we were the only ones left in the room.

I have no idea who this guy was but he taught me more about strength and the importance of being yourself than I’ll ever learn from pushing bar loaded with iron over my head. I still don’t know what it means to be a man but I know a little more about what it means to be myself.

And that’s the kind of story we’re looking for at our next show, Thursday, November 15, at Roy Street Coffee and Tea. Tell us about a time when you were unexpectedly grateful for something that happened to you. How did you go from being embarrassed or ashamed to being grateful? Did it happen immediately or did it take years to finally be glad it happened?

Remember to keep it clean and under 8 minutes. Practice out loud as much as you can. Here are the rules and guidelines for telling a story:

Feel free to email me if you have any questions or want some help on a story.

If you want to see some of the sweet dance moves we were doing in the locker room of the old Gold’s Gym in Olympia, Washington you can check out this Tom Jones clip.

Take care everyone. I hope to see a bunch of you on the 15th 🙂



Thank you!

Thanks everyone for making last Thursday’s show a memorable one. Not only did we hear some great stories, we also got to meet 18 high school kids and their teachers who came all the way from Bellingham to see live storytelling for the first time. One of those teachers wrote me this afternoon to say how impressed he was with the craftsmanship of the stories he heard that night. So there you have it. Unbiased feedback confirming how great you all are 🙂

Before I tell you more about the show I want to let you know that there is some important info at the bottom of this message. If you don’t want to read the wrap-up, just scroll to the bottom and check out the links to upcoming shows and opportunities.

Most of you have probably figured out that my favorite part of FGS is getting to know each performer through the story they tell. There’s a connection I find with storytellers that I’ve never found with actors, comics, singers, or any other performing artists. I love those art forms but storytelling is the thing that makes me feel like I’m not alone in the world.

So when David K told a story about being overwhelmed by his two granddaughters, it made me feel better about all the memories I have of getting overwhelmed when my son would have a bunch of his friends over to play. When Bruce told a story about how relieved he was to finally find a group to belong to, it made me feel a lot better about all the times I tried desperately to fit in and failed.

John’s story about how important it was to find a certain album on eBay that contained the only song he and his good friend Stewart ever wrote together took a turn at the end that surprised me. You see, Stewart died a few years ago. What John wanted most was to hear his friend’s voice one more time. I don’t know John very well but I can picture him at home on his couch, putting that record on the turntable and feeling just for a moment that he was right there in the room with his old friend

Chad told a perfect Chad story about being 11 years old and discovering Tony Robins, the motivational speaker. I’m pretty sure he was the only kid in his neighborhood walking around muttering “If you can believe, you can achieve!” Chad’s story makes me think that we would have been great friends if we had been 11-years old at the same time.

One story that makes me want to find out more about who comes to FGS is the story David S told. I can’t repeat the story in a few sentences so I’ll just tell you that it was about how childhood trauma often affects your health as an adult. I learned about this at a TED conference I went to in 2016. I attended a workshop where the teacher asked us to calculate our ACE scores. ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. The test is 10 simple questions you can answer in a couple of minutes. Your 1-10 score indicates how much trauma you lived through or witnessed before the age of 18.

I know I’ll never be able to find out, but I’d love to know the average ACE score of the people who come to Fresh Ground Stories. Everyone in the audience is always so kind and respectful of storytellers who talk about the truths they’ve learned from a hard life. I get the sense that most people at FGS know how difficult it is to dive into your past as a way to understand the present. Maybe that explains why this show is one of few places I feel accepted and understood. Whenever I write a new story, the place I most want to tell it is at Roy Street.

That night we also heard from some of the teenagers who came down from Bellingham. What came through most in their stories was how hard it is to be a kid. I told their teachers that I would be happy to go up to Bellingham one day and do some kind of show with them. If I had seen a show like FGS, where grownups are this honest and vulnerable, I think my life would have turned out a lot differently. Hopefully, those teachers can figure out a way to get a show together so I (and maybe a few of you) can drive up there and tell some stories with those kids.

If you’re curious what your ACE score is, you can take the test here:

I’d love to tell you more about the show but I need to wrap this up so I can start writing the invitation to the next show which will be on Nov 15. The theme is “No Regrets – Stories of unexpected gratitude.” If that one doesn’t jog your memory then you can think of it as, “Things you should regret but don’t.” When I say it that way people seem to get this mischievous look and start laughing quietly to themselves. Have you ever been grateful for something you didn’t expect to be grateful for? That’s the kind of story we’re looking for.

Before I let you go I want to tell about some great shows and opportunities coming up in the next couple of weeks.

One of our regulars, Renata Lubinsky, just wrote a book called, “Around Seattle in 80 Dates.” I’m going to be interviewing her about some of those crazy nights on Sunday, Nov 4 at the University Book Store. I haven’t gone on 80 dates in my entire life but Renata managed to do it in a  year or something. If you want to know what she learned and what happened on that 80th date come hang out with us at the UW bookstore 🙂

Bill Bernat, together with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), has put together a very powerful show with nine amazing women who are sharing stories of how mental health issues have affected themselves or their loved ones. Bill and 3 tellers from FGS spent a big part of this year helping these women shape their stories for the stage. The stories they’re telling are some of the most triumphant and courageous I’ve ever heard. I’m taking my son to the show because I want him to see how strong people can be when they have to. I hope some of you can make it. You can catch the show on either Nov 10 or 11. It’s a fundraiser for NAMI so the money is going to a good cause. If you can’t afford the listed ticket prices there are scholarships available. Please don’t feel bad about contacting Tom at and telling him what you can afford.

Below are two new shows that just contacted me. Both of them offer stage time to anyone wanting to tell a story. The second one has a featured teller as well as an open mic. I can’t get to either of these shows this month, but if anyone does I’d love to hear what your experience was. They both seem like good shows run by good people. So many of you have great stories and I only have so much time at FGS to get people on stage who deserve to be heard. Any time I hear of an opportunity for you to tell your story around town I do my best to get the word out. Bearing Witness a Story Salon Hosted by Chad Goller-Sojourner
Featuring Kacie Rahm of The Moth in Seattle
@ Atticus inside Mama’s Cantina, 2nd & Bell
Thursday, October 25th 21 + FREE
Sign- Up 8:30 Show 9:00
Theme “Open Topic”
Come out and tell a five-minute story, or just enjoy the show!

That’s all I have for now. I’ll be out of town next week for work so if you write me and I don’t get back to you right away that’s the reason.

Take care. See you on the 15th!
(don’t forget that we’re doing the show on 3rd Thursdays now instead of 4th Thursdays)


See you tomorrow!

Hi Everyone,

I hope to see a bunch of you at the show tomorrow. The theme is “Not getting what you want – Stories of coming up short.”

Not getting what you want – Stories of coming up short

Thursday, Oct 18, 2018, 7:00 PM

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

27 Story Fans Attending

As a frequent reader of inspirational sayings, I’m constantly amazed at how many people are able to convince themselves that not getting what they wanted is just what they needed. Who are these people who are always finding another door opening while the one in front of them is closing? I’ve smashed my foot in dozens of doors that I should have let…

Check out this Meetup →

I was poking around YouTube tonight looking for a good story to get you excited about the show and I found one from a fellow right here in Seattle. It wasn’t until I watched it that I realized I’ve never told my own story about a similar experience I had with my son. It made me wonder what’s been keeping me from doing that.

I’ve don’t know the guy telling this story but he’s the kind of person I’d probably enjoy talking to. I’m going to contact him and see if he’d like to tell a story at FGS one day. Until then, enjoy the story he told at The Moth in Seattle a couple years ago.

I hope you’re having a good week. See you tomorrow at Roy St 🙂