“Acting out of character” is one of those phrases that can mean completely different things depending on who says it to you. If your parents say it, you’re probably about to get a lecture. If your life coach says it, you’re probably about to get a gold star on your vision board. I like it when the same words could be cause for celebration or shame.
This month, we’d love to hear a story about a time when you acted out of character, either in a good way or a bad way. Were you a straight-A student who stole a car? Did you break a promise once that you still haven’t forgiven yourself for? Maybe you were the shyest kid in school who somehow worked up enough courage to ask your crush for a dance at the prom.
What did you do and what were the consequences? Did you end up never doing it again or was it something so good that you promised yourself you’d do more of it?
I hope you bring that story to next month’s show on February 17th. 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.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the show last Thursday. We had a good mix of regulars and first-timers and that always makes me happy.
Gretchen started us off with a story about a do-it-yourself hospital she found herself in after experiencing some mysterious pains. The most important thing we learned from Gretchen that night is that it’s never good news when your doctor tells you to move your car to long-term parking. I think that’s going to be my first question whenever my doctor calls me in with lab results. “Will I be needing short or long-term parking, Doc?”
Bev was next with a story about taking care of a room full of students who didn’t get to go on a school field trip. Everyone needs a teacher like Bev who goes out of her way to make a kid feel wanted. Education is important but it’s hard to learn when you feel like you’re a burden. I was lucky enough to have a few teachers who saw through my problems and made me feel wanted. I’m glad those kids had Bev.
Deborah followed Bev with a story about the gratitude she learned driving around the country pulling a tiny trailer she and her husband camped in. I laughed out loud when she described her husband’s frustration at her indecipherable hand signals whenever she tried to help him back up. I wouldn’t be surprised if backward hand signals were responsible for at least 10% of divorces nationally. The secret to a long, happy marriage might be only using pull-through parking in RV parks. But as frustrating as some of their trips were, Deborah managed to find joy and gratitude once she realized how fortunate they were just to be able to take those trips. Thich Nhat Hanh probably has a book on that but without all the trailer references.
Mary then told a story that took a lot of courage. She told us about her marriage of 53 years that started off rough. Real rough. But over time it got better. In fact, her husband of half a century was sitting in the room with her as she told her story. I wish more people, especially parents, talked about how much work relationships take. Mary’s daughter and granddaughter were in the audience that night. I hope they were proud of her. I wish my dad had talked to me about the meaningful relationships in his life. Even the ones that ended bad. Especially the ones that ended bad. It would have put my own struggles and failures in perspective. I think I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself if I had known my dad struggled too with trying to make things work. Thank you, Mary, for showing us that sometimes relationships take years of work and patience to get to the good stuff.
Our last two tellers were first-timers but you wouldn’t know it by how compelling their performances were.
Zac told the story of he and his partner Karen going to Burma in the early part of their relationship to see how they handled stressful situations. I get the feeling Zac is kind of an all-or-nothing kind of guy. Most of us would take our sweetheart to a concert we aren’t sure they’d like. Or maybe to a family reunion where we could leave early if things got testy. Not Zac. He talks Karen into going to a country where they don’t speak the language and getting into a cab driven by a guy who may or may not live in a bush. Zac did a fantastic job telling this story. It involved stacks of cash secreted on their bodies, some crying in the back seat, possible organ trafficking, and ultimately the realization that most of our fears in life are completely unfounded, and no matter where you go you’re going to run into far more good people than bad. One of my favorite things about this story is that most if it takes place in the minds of Zac and Karen. The whole story was just the ride from the airport to the hotel yet it was also an emotional ride from confusion to fear to panic and then understanding and resolution. Thank you, Zac. I hope you come back and tell more stories with us.
Our final teller was Jamie with a story about saving her brother’s wedding in Malaysia during Covid. She worked on it with me over the phone for two weeks and she really nailed it. Even though I’ve heard the story a bunch of times, I still can’t believe she pulled it off. Somehow she managed to host a wedding in 100 degree heat, with friends and family in multiple rooms, continents, and time zones, and a minister who Zoomed in from across town. Most importantly, she was able to be there for her brother who had always been there for her. From beginning to end you could feel the love Jamie has for her brother. Love is a great way to end a story and also a great way to end an evening. Thank you, Jamie.
Thanks to everyone who came out and supported our tellers. One of our tellers had ether mic or wifi problems during the show so I rescheduled her for next month. I wish I knew more about tech to help everyone out with this stuff. All I know is that corded mics are better than Bluetooth mics. Using an ethernet cord is better than wifi. And sometimes tablets/iPads don’t have enough computing power to handle a big Zoom meeting so consider using a laptop. I don’t know if any of those things were what our teller was dealing with that night but that’s all I can think of. Feel free to get ahold of me if you want to do a test Zoom on your equipment. I’m happy to do that any day before the day of the show. I’m also happy to put you on the next show if you have any tech problems during your story. It happens to everyone and I want to make sure you get a chance to tell the story you practiced all month on.
Next month’s show is on February 17. The theme is “For Better or Worse – Stories of acting out of character.” I’ll get the invite out as soon as I can.
Don’t forget, our free monthly workshop is coming up on Sunday, February 6. It’s run by the amazing Dave K and is a great place to get feedback on stories you’re working on.
Remember to write me directly at freshgroundstories at gmail dot com if you have any questions or want help on a story. Replies to these emails through the Meetup system doesn’t usually work for some reason.
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I just found some great storytelling advice from one of my favorite tellers and want to share it with you. The following articles aren’t in any particular order so dive into whichever one seems most helpful for whatever story you’re working on.
When you’re done with those articles, think about a story you’d like to work on and write Emily Pitts. She’s one of our regulars and just started a cool new in-person storytelling show at the Fremont Abbey called Locally Fameless. I asked her for a quick description of the show and this is what she sent me.
“Locally Fameless is a new in-person monthly storytelling show at the Fremont Abbey. We are looking for stories about hidden talents, feats attempted and achieved, fascinating jobs, wild adventures, and more! Our goal is to grow and develop the storytelling scene in Seattle while highlighting some of the extraordinary people in our area. No storytelling experience is needed. Our goal is to grow and develop the storytelling scene in Seattle while highlighting some of the extraordinary people in our area. This show has a workshop model. If a person is a good fit there are several zoom workshops with the producers and other tellers to work on and develop stories. We look forward to hearing from you! Emilyjpitts@gmail.com”
Even if you don’t have a story to tell, wouldn’t it feel great to show up and support her? Of course it would. So buy a ticket, get on the bus, and have a good time. Maybe even get inspired to tell a story one day yourself 🙂
I hope to see a bunch of you at our own show, Thursday, January 20. We’re still on Zoom for a while until we can all feel comfortable going back to our regular space at the Olive Way Starbucks. January’s theme is “Unexpected Goodness – Things turning out better than expected”.
Send me an email if you have any questions or want help on a story.