FGS: Better Than I Thought I was – Stories of being wrong about yourself

Our next show is May 20th. Come tell a story about a time when you surprised yourself and realized that you were a little better than you thought you were.

I’m always amazed at people who have confidence in themselves. Where did they get it? Was it under the tree one year? Does it come with Amazon Prime? Sometimes I’m listening to someone tell me about some great thing they accomplished and I keep waiting for the part where they talk about the days and weeks of self-doubt, misgivings, second-guessing, and worry. But they never get there! they just decided to do something and then they did it. 

Clearly, these aren’t the stories we’re looking for. This month we’re looking for stories where you didn’t think you were good enough or smart enough or strong enough and then suddenly you were. Remember to make it about a specific event or events and not just a general feeling of waking up one day and feeling good about yourself. What did you actually do that caused you to realize you were better than you thought you were? 

If you want to tell a story, remember to practice 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 also have to be pretty clean in both language and content. The rest of the rules and guidelines are below:

Workshops are a great way to get feedback on a story you’re working on. Here are two I highly recommend:

Stay Awesome Storytelling Virtual Workshop

Seattle, WA
145 Members

Hi! Come join me Bill Bernat to workshop a 5-7 minute story. It’s the perfect way to prep a story for Fresh Ground Stories or another storytelling show. This is usually a smal…

Next Meetup

Workshop Your Story with Great Tellers and a Coach

Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 5:30 PM
2 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

FGS – Storytelling Workshop

Seattle, WA
687 Storytellers

This workshop helps you become a better storyteller and to prepare to tell stories at events like Fresh Ground Stories or The Moth.The workshop is free.A diverse group of pe…

Next Meetup

May ONLINE Storytelling Workshop

Sunday, May 2, 2021, 1:00 PM
9 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

Both are run by experienced tellers who have performed many times at FGS. I’m also happy to help with stories. Send me an email at freshgroundstories@gmail.com and we set up a call.

If you want to tell a story at the show, email me as soon as possible so I can get you on the list.

I send out a Zoom registration link to everyone in the Meetup group the Monday before each show. You must register for the show in order to attend. 

After you register, Meetup will send you a link to the actual show. Each link is unique to the person who registered so you won’t be able to share it with anyone. 

Feel free to RSVP on Meetup if you want their automatic reminders, but I’ll be sending the registration link to everyone in the group regardless of your RSVP.

We only have 100 spots in each show so the first 98 people to register for the show will be the only ones who can attend. 

Hope to see a bunch of you on the 20th!

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com

Thank you :)

Thanks to everyone who came out last Thursday and enjoyed a great night of storytelling. It was just what I needed last week. I hope you heard something you needed to hear too.


Rebecca started the evening with the story of her leaving home after graduation with nothing but a backpack and a sleeping bag. There’s a beautiful scene in the story where her mother watches her daughter walk down the road toward highway 20, knowing she was headed to Oregon, as far west as she could go. We could all imagine what she was thinking knowing that she had planted the seeds of Rebecca’s adventures by whispering, “There’s a lot of world outside of Jesup, Iowa,” over and over as she was growing up. Thank you, Rebecca, for that hypnotic story of a young girl leaving home.


Affifi was next with another story of leaving home, but this time home was Lebanon and her journey took her first to England, then to NYC, and finally to Seattle. We’ve all had to look for work but very few of us have had to find work with the threat of deportation hanging over our head. We should all add that to our gratitude list. Thank you, Affifi, for that story of dreams and determination.


Dave shared with us the story of picking up their daughter Katya 20 years ago from an orphanage just outside Vladivostok. Everyone was pulled in as he described the relief he and his wife felt as they finally made it through the Russian adoption process and then the surprising love they felt from the people who had been taking care of little Katya. At the end, we learned a word all of us should know in every language, spasibo, which means thank you.
Beverly followed with the story about how her home is her garden. It always makes me laugh when a story sparks a big conversation right afterward. Seconds after Beverly finished her story, we suddenly learned who the gardeners were in our group. Everyone chimed in on a quick discussion of clock gardens, deer, and moonflowers. Thank you Beverly for bringing us all into the place you call home.


Mary, a first-timer, told a story that was over 50 years in the making. It was about leaving one home early in life and having to find and leave many homes over the years. Mary reminded me of how many homes some of us have had throughout our lives and how some of those homes are safer than others. Thanks for bringing me back to all the places I used to think were home but turned out to be something else.


Behnaz is one of two people I talked to last month who inspired the theme for this month. Both of them were immigrants who shared stories of what it was like to come to another country and start a new life. I used to do a joke in my act where I said, “I’m not originally from America, I grew up in Alaska.” To me, it was very true. When people leave Alaska, they call it “going outside.” It took me a long time to get used to freeways, waves of people coming at me on the sidewalk, and cities that seemed to go on forever. I can’t imagine what it must be like to come from another country where you have to deal with even vaster differences in language and culture. When I was a kid, my mom told me stories of growing up in The Bronx in the 30s and 40s and all the different accents and languages she heard. There was nothing like that in Alaska. But thanks to all the amazing people I’ve met in FGS from all over the world I’m finally starting to understand a little better where my mom came from.


Behnaz, I’m not even going to try to describe your story. I’ll just say that I’m going to remember the line, “Welcome home” for a long time. Thank you.


Katy, another first-timer, told our second story of the night that included hitchhiking. There’s something about hitting the road when everything has gone sideways that makes so much sense at the time. It makes me wonder if this is an American thing or if it happens in other countries. Does hitchhiking have the same cultural appeal overseas as it does here? Stories like Katy’s make me wonder if I missed out on something by not hitchhiking at least a few times in my life.


Bridget told next and it was another story that made me lean back in my chair clapping and laughing. Sometimes we get stories from moments where we were caught with our pants down but rarely do we get stories from getting caught with our actual pants down. Bridget is one of those tellers whose life seems to generate stories just from getting out of bed and going about her day. If you ever see that Bridget is on a show somewhere make sure you go to that show. You won’t regret it.


Connie called us from Idaho to tell a story full of love and loss. It was animal love and loss but it hurts the same. I know Connie isn’t the only one of us who relied on our pets to help us get through last year. Unfortunately, Connie lost two important animal friends in the last few months, her dog and her horse. There’s a scene in her story where she’s digging a grave in the frozen earth by boiling water, pouring it on the ground, and digging until she can’t anymore. Then she repeats the process until the grave is dug. It took days. I can’t think of a more powerful act of love than the image of Connie doing that for her friend of so many years.


Chris S was our second to last teller and it was great to see her back onstage. She told us about how the pandemic has quieted her life in a way that’s allowed her to hear and process all the different voices from the past that have shaped how she sees and acts in the world. Now that we’re starting to leave our homes and embrace the world again, she wonders if she’ll still be able to make out the one voice that she discovered was her own. I can’t begin to do justice to how Chris told this story. It was a beautiful performance where the rhythm of her voice matched the words in a way that made us all lean a little closer to our screens.


Our last teller was Paul B. He told a story that got right inside me. There were so many things that pulled me in. A mother who was never pleased. A grandfather who cared more about his career than his family. Paul’s own sense of wanting to make his parents proud but at the same time wanting to stay true to himself. It was all there. Just as remarkable was that he never let the story get away from him. It could have veered off in so many directions but he kept it under control and never let it pull him off the path. It was a great story by a great teller. Thank you, my friend.

I hope a bunch of you will join us on May 20, for our next show, “Better Than I Thought I Was – Stories of being wrong about yourself.” I’ll get the invite out as soon as I can.

FGS: Home – Stories of leaving, finding, or creating one

Our next show is April 15th. Come tell a story about leaving, finding, or creating a home. You can define home as broadly as you want.

Did you run away from home at 15? Did you find your first true home at 45? Maybe you made a home for other people when you realized no one was going to give them a home but you. Have you ever found a place where you feel you really belong? How did it happen?

It wasn’t until about 10 to 12  years ago that I started taking off my coat when I went to someone’s house. That’s weird, right? I think it was because I wanted to make a quick exit after I said something funny. I figured there was no point staying after the big closer. Why else was I there, right? Someone remind me to bring that up with my therapist next month.

Anyway, if you want to tell a story, don’t forget to practice 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 also have to be pretty clean in both language and content. The rest of the rules and guidelines are below:

Workshops are a great way to get feedback on a story you’re working on. Here are two I highly recommend:

Stay Awesome Storytelling Virtual Workshop

Seattle, WA
142 Members

Hi! Come join me Bill Bernat to workshop a 5-7 minute story. It’s the perfect way to prep a story for Fresh Ground Stories or another storytelling show. This is usually a smal…

Next Meetup

Workshop Your Story with Great Tellers and a Coach

Tuesday, Apr 6, 2021, 5:30 PM
2 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

FGS – Storytelling Workshop

Seattle, WA
669 Storytellers

This workshop helps you become a better storyteller and to prepare to tell stories at events like Fresh Ground Stories or The Moth.The workshop is free.A diverse group of pe…

Next Meetup

April ONLINE Storytelling Workshop

Sunday, Apr 11, 2021, 1:00 PM
9 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

Both are run by experienced tellers who have told many times at FGS. I’m also happy to help with stories. Send me an email at freshgroundstories@gmail.com and we set up a call.

If you want to tell a story at the show, email me as soon as possible so I can get you on the list.

I send out the Zoom registration link to everyone in the Meetup group on April 12. You must register for the show in order to attend. 

After you register, Meetup will send you a link to the actual show. Each link is unique to the person who registered so you won’t be able to share it with anyone. 

If you know someone who wants to attend but isn’t a member of the Meetup group you can share the registration link with them. That way they can register and get their own unique link to the show. Sorry if that’s confusing. Email me if you have any questions.

Feel free to RSVP on Meetup if you want their automatic reminders, but I’ll be sending the registration link to everyone in the group regardless of your RSVP.

We only have 100 spots in each show (98 actually since me and my assistant each take one spot) so the first 98 people to register for the show will be the only ones who can attend. 

Hop to see a bunch of you on the 15th!

Paul
freshgroundstories@gmail.com

Thank you!

Before I get to the wrap-up I want to let everyone know there are links to workshops and a Seattle Times article on FGS at the bottom of this email.

Big thanks to everyone who came out last Thursday for the show. We had a great mix of new and regular tellers. As much as I want to get back to our in-person shows, I’m so grateful that we’re now getting new tellers from all over the world thanks to Zoom. 

Tracey started off the show with a story that only she could tell. It included foreign coins, missing toes, humid hair frizzies, a benign tumor, and a class in Taiwan for children with learning disabilities. Somehow she wrapped it all up with a lesson in trusting your spidey sense and the importance of letting go of being right.

Yousaf told us about a time when he spent the last few months at his job trying to get a parental leave policy in place for a coworker who just had a baby. If you’ve ever had a new baby and a job at the same time you know how important parental leave can be. Thank god there are people like Yousaf out there who will take a risk at work for others. It’s not easy convincing management anywhere to give people more paid leave and sometimes it can affect your career just by asking. In Yiddish, we would call Yousaf mensch. In Hebrew, we would call what he a mitzvah. 

Paul B told a story that I’m sure will end up on The Moth or Risk! or some other national podcast. It was about letting go of the guilt he’d been carrying and figuring out how to forgive himself. Paul raised the bar for honesty and vulnerability that night and made me wonder what stories I’ve been afraid to tell.

Bridget’s story had me really wanting to meet her husband one day. He got her a surprise skydiving lesson for her birthday. Who gets someone a skydiving lesson without asking?! I told Bridget afterward that for her husband’s birthday she should get him a cliff diving lesson. If he survives he has to come tell the story.

Behnaz had us all cheering for nerds at the end of her story. It turns out she kind of likes them and may even be one herself. It also turns out that, based on certain data we calculated, plotted, and peer-reviewed during the show, that she might be the 57th smartest person in Iran. You’d have to hear the story to understand that but I have complete confidence in my data. 

Marte’s story of asking her parents for help paying for college when she was 30 turned out to be a tender realization that asking for help was probably the first truly adult thing she had done in her life. Marte doesn’t know this, but the next day my son asked me for help. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been in the audience that night. Thank you, Marte for showing my kid there’s no shame in asking for help.

Rhonda, a first-timer from Tucson, closed the show with a powerful story about watching her daughter work through addiction, and what it felt like to not be able to save her. I know from the comments people posted afterward that Rhonda wasn’t the only one in the room that night who has had to watch someone they love battle addiction. Rhonda, thank you for having the courage to tell that story. I know parts of it are were still raw. You will tell this story again one day and there will be even more people in the audience who need to hear it.

Thanks to everyone who joined us and supported me and the tellers that night. We’ll be back next month with a new theme,  “Home – Stories of leaving, finding, or creating one.”

Email me if you’d like to tell a story on that night. The show is on April 15. I’ll get the invite out as soon as I can. In the meantime, check out the workshops, a book, and an article below.

Here is Paul Barach’s memoir of his pilgrimage through Japan. I have a copy and so should you.

The biweekly workshop with Bill Bernat

Workshop Your Story with Great Tellers and a Coach

Tuesday, Mar 23, 2021, 5:30 PM

Online event
,

4 Members Attending

Come join some amazing storytellers to workshop a 5-7 minute story. It’s the perfect way to prep a story for Fresh Ground Stories or another storytelling show. We’ll divide the time between storytellers, but will make sure everyone gets at least 15 minutes even if means we stay long. Format: You tell us what kind of feedback or help you’re looking …

Check out this Meetup →

Here’s a workshop that’s quickly filling up from our friends at Story Fruition
https://mailchi.mp/e2a73c63c28d/next-storytelling-workshop-is-this-thursday-a-couple-of-spots-left?e=f4e5431327

The monthly FGS workshop

April ONLINE Storytelling Workshop

Sunday, Apr 11, 2021, 1:00 PM

Online event
,

7 Storytellers Attending

Learn to craft a story you can feel proud telling in front of an audience! Gain confidence publicly telling stories by practicing in a low-pressure environment! Meet other dynamic interesting people who enjoy sharing about real, meaningful experiences in their lives! Bring a story that you might like to tell at a storytelling event. Your story shou…

Check out this Meetup →

An article by Christy Karras at the Seattle Times that features FGS
https://www.seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-magazine/checking-in-with-previous-gather-groups-to-see-how-theyre-coping-after-a-year-of-pandemic-separation/

Paul

Freshgroundstories@gmail.com