FGS: Making the Best of It – Stories of not getting what you want

I suppose I could have chosen this theme for any month since Covid hit. It feels like the last 20 months have been a real test in how to deal with not getting what I want. If anyone needs any bright sides, upsides, plus sides, sunny sides, rays of hope, silver linings, or glasses half-full I have a bunch over here I’m not using.

Normally, I do pretty well with not getting what I want because I’ve had a lot of experience in that area. And I’m sure the gratitude fairy will knock on my door anytime now and remind me that I have the power to dig one of those silver linings out of the closet any time I want.

But right now I’d love to hear about a time when you didn’t get what you wanted. It doesn’t have to be during Covid. It could be from any time in the rich pageant that’s been your life. 

What were you hoping for that didn’t happen? Was it love? Money? Work? A cure for male pattern baldness? What happened and how did you deal with it? I think we’d all love to hear that kind of story right now. 

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. If your story goes long, someone else who practiced for weeks might not get a chance to tell. Stories also have to be clean in both language and content. Send me an email or give me a call if you have any questions about that.

The best advice I ever got on coming up with a story is to start with your last line and work backward (thanks The Moth!) If you know where you want to end up, it’s easier to figure out what other moments fit and don’t fit in the story.

Rules and guidelines for telling at FGS are below:

Workshops are a great way to get feedback on a story you’re working on. Here is one I highly recommend:  https://www.meetup.com/Fresh-Ground-Stories-Storytelling-Workshop/

I’m also happy to help people with their stories. Send me an email and we can set up a phone call. (Meetup doesn’t always like the “reply” feature so it’s best to start a new email and send it to me directly at freshgroundstories@gmail.com

If you like to work alone, this is the best book I’ve ever seen on personal storytelling:


We’ll be on Zoom again unless the indoor mask mandate changes. Now is a great time for our out-of-town tellers to share more stories with us.

I’ll send out the Zoom link to everyone on the Monday before the show which is December 13.

I hope to see a bunch of you on the 16th!


Mental health storytelling opportunity

Hi Everyone,

The folks at https://onemind.org/ are looking to talk to someone who has a personal story about depression that’s holiday-focused. It could also be about Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

They’re taping their webcast next Thursday, December 2, so they need someone ASAP. Email me directly at freshgroundstories at gmail dot com and I’ll connect you to them.

One Mind included me in a documentary earlier this year and I was just on a webcast with them a couple weeks ago. They’re good people doing good work. You can feel good about sharing your story with them.

Here’s more info about them that I copied from their website.

“One Mind accelerates brain health research and advocacy to enable all individuals with mental health conditions to build healthy, productive lives. Inspired by our founders’ lived experience, we work from science to services to society to drive global, collaborative action.”

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll put you in touch with them.



Thank you!

Thank you all for a great show last Thursday. On Saturday we only had one teller signed up but by showtime we had nine! As always, we learned a lot from the stories we heard.

Thank you Silvana for teaching us what can happen when you find out that people really do care about you. There are our biological families and there are what Father Gregory Boyle calls our logical families. Silvana found her logical family as an 18-year-old and it changed her life.

Thank you Deborah for teaching us what can happen when we get our of our own head for a minute. Deborah broke her diet and her moratorium on baking for Uncle Louie who was slowly dying in an assisted living facility. When Louie opened that tin and the aroma of those cookies wafted out into the room, he went right back in time to all those holidays he spent with their big Italian family back east. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to remind them of all the love they’ve had in their life even if it only lasts for a cookie.

Thank you Colleen for showing us how important it is to find one place in this world where you can relax. For Colleen, this happened to be falling out of a the sky strapped to another woman with a parachute. Some of us buy stress balls and some of us jump out of planes at 13,500 feet. That’s right. One person’s soft, warm bubble bath can be another person’s screaming night terror. Of course, what Colleen really taught us was that sometimes you have to do something others won’t in order to get what you need.

Thank you Gretchen for showing us how important it is to know why we make the choices we do. Sometimes the reason we think we’re doing something isn’t the real reason we’re doing it. And if we don’t truly understand why we’re doing something is it really a choice? I love the change in Gretchen’s voice at the end of her story. It was as though her heart took over the telling and the room shrunk down to just me and her. That’s what stories can do for us. They can make us feel they’re here just for us.

Thank you Tonya for showing us that with enough love and support you can change your life and end up in a better place than you ever imagined. Tonya and her husband changed their minds about having a child and it led the to a deeper love than they thought possible. What we want when we’re young is usually different from what we want when we’re older. It makes sense to change your mind about things when you yourself have changed.

Thank you Chris for showing us that compelling stories can be told about the smallest of things. Chris’s entire story was about putting together a 2,542 piece sumo wrestling jigsaw puzzle. How did she make us care about a jigsaw puzzle? She let us in on her inner dialogue. We learned how she felt about spilling tea on it and watching all the color on three pieces disappear. We learned how she found out that she could get replacement pieces but only if she lived in Japan. Most of all we learned how she felt about all her plans and dreams for 2020 being reduced to completing a puzzle. Chris is a master of telling big stories about small things. We can all learn a lot from her.

Thank you Carmen, a first-timer, for showing us that sometimes it’s good to say yes to strangers and experiences you’d normally say no to. One summer in Seattle she jumped on a rickety boat with a bunch of strangers and didn’t end up on the front page of the Seattle Times. She had a magical afternoon that gave her hope that the new life she was starting was going to be a good one. Carmen’s story made me wonder how often I only think of times that turned out bad. How much happier would I be if I focused more on the times when I took a chance and things turned out good?

Thank you Kristen, another first-timer, who told a story of failing a weapons test in the navy and how it led to not becoming the governor of Alabama. Kristen, I too will never become the governor or Alabama so you are in good company. More importantly, she showed us how important it is that what you want in life is really what you want in life. Her last line was so perfect I want to share it with you here. “I would no longer spend my life failing at other people’s dreams.” I’m glad Kristen found that out sooner than I did.

Our final teller of the night was Dave. Thank you Dave for showing us how stories of frustrating times can bring joy years later. I’ve heard Dave tell lots of stories but I’ve never seen him smile and laugh as much as when he told this one. It was about the time his six-year-old daughter talked him into letting her get a couple Guinea pigs which of course ended up running loose in the house. If we had been there years ago when he was getting out the power tools to dismantle a cupboard to get at those Guinea pigs, we probably wouldn’t have seen him laughing. But as he told the story about all the things he had to do to capture these Guinea pigs we could see the joy spreading throughout his body. What was once a pain in the butt was now a reason to laugh and reminisce. This is the power of stories. Thank you Dave for reminding us that once you put life in a story it can become whatever you need it to be.

Special thanks to all the people who showed up and supported the storytellers. Your laughter, applause,and chat room love mean a lot to me and everyone who walks up to the mic. It’s because of you that we’re able to share these stories.

Our next show is December 16th. The theme is “Not getting what you want.” I hope 8-10 of you have not gotten what you want at least once in life and would love to tell us about it 🙂

In the meantime, there are a couple of things I want to let you know about.

Dave’s monthly workshop is coming up on Dec 5. RSVP if you have a story you’re working on and would like some feedback.


Also, Tonya let us know that the next Ignite Seattle is coming up on February 17th. Ignite is a great place to learn to give short, compelling talks using slides. They provide lots of coaching and their shows are always excellent. At least a couple of FGS’ers have given Ignite talks and they both had great experiences. Check them out!


I’ll get the invite for the December show out as soon as I can.

Email me directly at freshgroundstories@gmail.com if you have any questions or want help on a story.
(I just learned last week that replying to my emails through the Meetup system doesn’t work and I never receive it.)


See you Thursday

Hi Everyone,

I’m looking forward to seeing you on Zoom this Thursday! 

We still have spots available so I’m going to open the show up to stories on any theme as long as it follows the general FGS rules and guidelines.

Send me an email between now and Thursday if you’d like to tell a story.

Below is the Zoom info. See you soon 🙂


Topic: U-turns – Stories of changing your mind

Time: Nov 18, 2021 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 842 5060 0107

Passcode: 480025

One tap mobile

+12532158782,,84250600107#,,,,*480025# US (Tacoma)

+16699006833,,84250600107#,,,,*480025# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location

        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)

        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

        +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)

        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

        +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)

Meeting ID: 842 5060 0107

Passcode: 480025

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kkiLdLe6q

See you next week!

Hi All,

Just a quick reminder that the show is coming up next Thursday. We still have spots open if you’d like to tell a story. The theme for the night is U-Turns – Stories of changing your mind.


Send me an email if you’d like to be on the list to tell.

Last week I was interviewed on a webcast about how storytelling is one of the things I do to take care of my mental health. I had a great time talking to the folks at onemind.org. Scroll forward to 24:09 if you’d like to see me sitting in front of my collection of Richard Brautigan books talking about FGS, mental health, and why crisis lines should never play 70s soft rock as their hold music.

If you’re looking for some storytelling inspiration, here’s a great one I just found a few minutes ago. It’s short, funny, and really well told. If Adriane Mcgillis had told this in Seattle instead of Ashville, NC I would have asked her to come tell it at our show next Thursday 🙂

Let me know if you’d like help on a story you’re working on. I’m happy to set up a phone call.

See you on the 18th!