FGS: Not What I Thought it Was – Stories of being under the illusion

Hi Everyone,

June’s theme is “Not What I Thought it Was – Stories of being under the illusion.”

I don’t know if I hold the record for most times being fooled in one lifetime but I’m pretty sure I’ve at least made it to the medal round. Work, love, kids, food, the more sure I am about what I’m getting the more likely it is that I’m getting something else.

Earlier this year I went in for my annual checkup and all my doctor talked about was how often I checked my moles. At first I thought he was talking about my lawn. But no, he was poking around on the top of my head like monkey looking for bugs. I thought all he was going to do was take my blood pressure, look up my nose, and send me on my way. Suddenly, we’re talking about hats? Now I need to take a physics class to figure out the proper angle to hold three mirrors so I can see the top of my head.

Even worse was is this meditation stuff I’ve been doing since the beginning of the year. Apparently, I have to keep doing it forever. I had this vague idea I could meditate for a couple months and then I’d be enlightened. After that I could move on to other pressing life issues like figuring out where that smell in the fridge is coming from. But according to the 99-cent app I purchased, there’s no end to this meditation stuff. If I want to keep getting the benefits I have to keep doing it. This was definitely not addressed in the iTunes description and I’m feeling a little taken advantage of.

Lately, I’ve been trying to write a story about my asthma. What I’m discovering is that my emotions play a bigger role in keeping me out of the ER than my inhaler does. I’ve been under the illusion that my ability to breathe is completely disconnected from my ability to stay calm. That isn’t listed in the fine print on my Albuterol but I think it ought to be. “Caution: Effectiveness of this product may be linked to your current emotional state.”

This revelation is actually a big deal for me. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks now. It’s changing how I think about my breathing and how much my health is affected by who and what I let into my life. You wouldn’t think you could get a story about being short of breath but I think I might be slowly working one up.

Luckily, this month’s theme is all about coming out from under the illusion of something. Think back to a time where you had a strong belief that you no longer have. What do you see differently now than you did in the past? Did you change your mind about a person? A job? A belief system? How did you get from there to here?

Bring a story about how your eyes were once closed but now they’re open and tell it at our next show on June 28 at Roy Street Coffee and Tea.

Remember, if you bring a story, keep it clean, practice out loud, and use a timer to make sure you keep it under 8 minutes. Here are the rules & guidelines to help you get started. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.


See you on the 28th!



Catch this storytelling class coming up

Hi Folks,
One of my favorite tellers is running a two-day storytelling class and I want everyone to know about it. Kent is a Moth StorySlam winner and one of the people I trust to know what he’s talking about when it comes to telling stories onstage. The text below is his so if you have any questions please contact him directly
Learn how to share “stage-worthy” stories that are genuine, generous, and vulnerable in a fun creative space. June 10th & 17th. $125.
We use writing tools from Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones, narrative improv games, the use of sense memory and terrific storytelling techniques to create stories and open creativity.

Thank you :)

Guys, you really surprised me last week. When it was 6:15 and there was only a dozen people in the entire coffee shop I figured I would have to either cancel the show or push a few chairs into a circle and call it a workshop. But suddenly, at 6:30, 50 people walked in! What happened? Did you all come on the same bus? By the time 7:00 rolled around  we had a full house.

If you’ve been following the show for a while, you know how much I love it when first-timers walk up to the mic. Last Thursday we had a number of them and I’m very happy they finally got up there. Gia has been coming to the show since 2010 and last week she finally decided to share a story. The story was about how watching her sister go through cancer treatment inspired her to become a radiation technician. Two weeks earlier, Gia and I talked briefly about how nervous she was about talking to a room full of strangers. As she walked onstage I was nervous for her. Afterward I asked her how she felt. She said she was excited to do it again! I hope she does. There was a moment toward the end of her story where she talked about how important it is to connect with people, especially if you have patients. Right after she said it the audience burst into applause. I think Gia’s future patients will be happy that she knows much healing is helped my feeling connected.

Maryanne told a very moving story about growing up with a classmate who was bullied in school. I’m guessing they went to school together in the 50s because it was heartbreaking to hear what teachers allowed and even encouraged back then. Maryanne is an amazing southern storyteller who has been performing for decades and her touch with this delicate story was perfect.

I’ve been hoping Maryanne would come by FGS since I met her a few years ago and I’m thrilled she finally made it. She hosts her own monthly story show which often happens on the same day and time as our show so I haven’t gotten to see hers yet. But that will change this week. I’m going to finally catch her show this Thursday at the Starbucks in Madison Park. She has all kinds of stories and guest tellers at her show so you never know what you’re going to get. I’m excited I finally get to see it and I hope some of you will join me. Click on the links below for more info:



Chris, one of our regulars, told a story that I think is one of her best. I remember the first time she ever told a story and I can’t believe she’s gotten this good in such a short period of time. Her story Thursday was about the time she and two friends visited the AIDS quilt Washington DC. I’ve known Chris for a few years now but this was a part of her life I never heard her talk about. She talked about how the quilt affected her friends and the promise she made to them that day. It was a beautiful story. Listening to it made me feel even closer to her. That feeling echoed what Gia said about connection earlier in the show and it made me feel like the whole night had come full circle.

Thanks to all the tellers who told that night and to everyone in the audience who gave them their patience and attention. FGS is where people learn how to tell stories and the audience is always so supportive in that. We get folks who have been telling stories all over the world for years and people who have never spoken in front of an audience before. It’s an inspiring mix for me and I hope it is for everyone else.

Our next show is June 28. The theme is “Not What I Thought it Was – Stories of being under the illusion.” I’ll get the invite out as soon as I can.

If you’re interested in seeing what kinds of other story shows are going on in Seattle check out the Seattle Storytelling group at the link below.


The woman who runs it does a great job of keeping track of all the storytelling events in or near Seattle.

Have a great June. Hope to see you all on the 28th 🙂


Two great shows coming up

Hi All,

I was out of town this weekend and haven’t had time to write my usual wrap-up and thank you email. I’ll get to that soon, but want to tell you about two great story shows coming up so you’ll have a chance to get tickets.

The wise and wonderful Danielle K.L. Gregoire will be doing one of her last shows in America this weekend and I hope a big pile of you can go catch it this Saturday, June 2.

She is one of my favorite people and a supporter of FGS (as well as former producer of The Moth and many other storytelling shows)

She’s doing something I’ve never seen done before, live improvised personal storytelling based on suggestions from the audience. I love this idea, and of all the tellers I know, Danielle is the only one who could pull it off. So go see her before she moves back to Canada!


The second show is the annual PowellsWood Storytelling Festival which I volunteer at every year. You know how hard it is to get me out of the house so it must be a pretty great show if I’m willing to drive up to Tacoma to see it.

Some of the greatest tellers in the county come out every year to perform in a beautiful garden setting. You could see these tellers at Benaroya Hall for a ton of money or see them up close and personal for $20. They also give workshops if you’re interested.

The all-day event is July 21 and the workshops are on the 20th. Click here for more info: http://powellswoodfestival.com/

Remember, if you go to the show Saturday, not only will you get to see world-class storytelling, you’ll also get to see me and my son wandering through the garden emptying garbage cans. That is the job the good folks at PowellsWood give us every year and we are happy to have it.

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend. I spent 12 miles of it paddling a kayak that might have been a bit too small for me. Do kayaks have sizes?? Am I an XL? I’m finally able to walk in a straight line now but it was touch and go for a while. Next year I might make an offer on the leaky, weathered rowboat I saw on the way to the marina. Right now, leg room seems more important than speed or seaworthiness.

Next FGS is June 28. The theme is “Not What I Thought it Was: Stories of being under the illusion.” I’ll get the invite out as soon as I can. See you then!


See you this Thursday!

Hi Everyone,

I hope to see you this Thursday at the next Fresh Ground Stories. We have two themes this month so if you want to tell a story you have a couple of topics to choose from. The first is “Keep on keeping on: Stories of not giving up” and the second is “Courage.” Choose one of those themes to tell a story about or just hang out and enjoy the show from the audience 🙂

FGS: Keep on Keeping On – Stories of not giving up

Thursday, May 24, 2018, 7:00 PM

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

32 Story Fans Attending

This month’s show is going to have two themes because I apparently I can’t keep track of even the simplest things in my life. But that is ok! Mistakes lead to stories so I’m not going to worry about it. Last week at the show I couldn’t remember the theme I had chosen so I told everyone at Roy St that the theme was “Courage.” When I got home that n…

Check out this Meetup →

Here’s a Moth story to put you in the mood: https://youtu.be/ayYMNb1H-Y8

I don’t know who Diana Spechler is but she tells a lot of stories that really resonate with me. Sometimes it feels like she’s been reading my journal. It’s a little unnerving.

Also, I just discovered a storytelling podcast that I instantly loved so I want to share it with you guys. It’s from multiple-Moth-StorySlam winner Matthew Dicks and his wife Elysia who give storytelling tips and then break down a story they like and explain what the teller did well. The podcast is called “SpeakUp Storytelling” and you can find it on iTunes here:


Did that sound like an advertisement for them? I hope not. It’s just a cool thing I found that I know will help me with my own storytelling so I wanted to pass it on to anyone else who might be interested.

The last thing I want to tell you about are two live story shows coming up that are worth seeing.

One is Folklife. There are a number of FGS alumni in the festival this year and I hope some of you can go check out their performances  http://seattlestorytellers.org/ssg/images/folklife18revtimes.pdf

The other is Auntmama’s Storytable, which usually runs at the same time and day as our show. This month, we’re lucky. She’s running her show a week after ours, May 31. I’ve been trying for a long time to get her to tell a story at FGS because she is amazing and I love sharing a stage with her. Until that happens you can see her show at her own show  http://seattlestorytellers.org/ssg/events/event-7400.html

That’s all I got. Enjoy the sun. Hope to see you in a few days at Roy Street!