Fresh Ground Stories: Fear Not! Stories of facing your fears

Hi Everyone,

December’s theme is “Fear Not! Stories of facing your fears.”

Many of you know that we have a little something called The Scone of Courage at Fresh Ground Stories. Before each show, I buy a scone from the cafe and give it to the first newcomer who gets onstage that night. It’s just a way for me to acknowledge how much I appreciate the courage it takes to get up in front of a group of strangers and be vulnerable.

This month’s theme is about a time when you could have given yourself a Scone of Courage. Bring a true story about a time when you faced your fears. Was it a physical fear? An emotional fear? What was at stake? Your job? Your health? Your reputation? What happened when you finally did it? What did you learn about yourself? Did it lead to facing other fears?

The older I get the more I realize that the people I love most are the ones who have faced something scary. Sometimes, when I’m feeling a little shaky about my own life, I’ll ask a friend to tell me about a time when they faced their demons. Of course, my timing is usually terrible and instead of trying to dive immediately into their soul I should probably just ask them to pass the gravy and wait until after dinner to solve my personal issues.

Luckily, you guys won’t have to worry about poor timing because we’re doing a whole show on facing your fears and the only timing you have to worry about is keeping your story under 8 minutes.

In the meantime, I might spring this question on my family. Sometimes our Thanksgiving dinners are too quiet and I’m always looking for a way to shake things up. I can’t wait to see if I can get one of the grandparents to tell a story that shocks the teenagers so much they put down their phones for a second.

No matter what happens at Thanksgiving this year, I hope to see a bunch of you on Thursday, December 14 at Roy Street Coffee and Tea.

If you bring a story, remember to 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.

See you on the 14th!



Thank you

Thank you everyone who showed up last Thursday and made it such a special show. There were so many touching stories that night that I ended up listening to some of then again tonight as I was writing this.

One of our new regulars, Rich, started the show with a sweet story about getting an unexpected hug from one of his jazz heroes, Roland Kirk, years ago in a little bar in San Francisco. It was a wonderful reminder that sometimes our heros are just as nice as we think they are.

Marty, a first-timer, followed Rich with a story of his first love, Jenny, when they were both five years old. It was the start of many crushes and love affairs in his life and also a winding journey of living with rejection while still trying to be vulnerable. His story brought me back to my own first crushes in elementary school and how I’m still learning my own lessons on how to stay open in the face of being hurt. Thank you Marty. I was happy to present you with the Scone of Courage.

Nathan, another first-timer, told us about the last act of love he was able to show a beloved uncle who meant a lot to him when he was growing up. Part of me wants to say more about Nathan’s story but another part of me feels like it should stay right there at Roy Street where we heard it.

David, one of our most prolific tellers, told a story that made me want to sit down with him for the rest of the night and talk about it. The story was how he came to realize that when we fall in love with someone we always think we’re the first act of our lover’s life but really we’re in the second act. We forget that the person we love has already lived through the first act before we got there. It’s something I’ve never thought about but as soon as David said it I knew it was something I’d be thinking about for a long time. Thank you, David. You know I’ll be calling you one day to dig into that.

Kristi, who has only told once before, almost had me falling out of my chair as she described diving into Lake Union to save Bubba the Boston Terrier. Even though I’ve never technically seen a woman swimming to shore with a dog on her head I feel like I have a really good idea of what that looks like now. While I’d never wish ill on Bubba the Dog Who Can’t Swim I do secretly hope that he falls off the dock one more time so I can see Kristi rescue him.

Chad told a great story about a particular series of gifts he spent hours preparing for his girlfriend. It was extra special for me because from where I was sitting I could turn around and see his sweetheart in the second row alternately laughing and beaming.

Bruce, another first-timer, told a story about how he dealt with his crush on Salma Hayek who just happens to live in Yelm which is 20 minutes from my house. Bruce, I swear if I ever see Salma buying corn nuts in the AM/PM down there I’ll give her your number.

Two of the sweetest stories of the night were from Sonny and Chris. I just sent Chris the audio of her story and told her that I’d listened to the last minute-and-a-half of it over and over tonight. If she lets me, I’m going to keep those 90 seconds in my phone and listen to them whenever I need to remind myself of how important any act of loving kindness is.

Sonny told one of the sweetest and quietest stories I’ve ever heard. It was about the time he went back to Wyoming and stood under the cottonwood tree where he carved a heart over half a century ago that said, “Sonny loves Ann.” The image of Sonny’s heart climbing higher into the sky every year is something I’ve thought about every day since he told that story. He was 12 when he left Wyoming and saw Ann for the last time. Somewhere out there in the world is a woman named Ann who I hope, at least in some small way, knows how much she meant to a little boy named Sonny.

Every now and then I see a story I love so much that I invite the teller to tell it at FGS. A few weeks ago I came across a fantastic story from Cindy Healy who won the Moth Story Slam with her story about a movie she saw in the theater that brought her back to December 4, 1996 when she and a small group of people did something amazing.

Thank you Cindy for being kind enough to come out and tell that story again for us at Roy Street. You are always welcome to come back and tell stories with us.

Click the link below to see the Moth version of Cindy’s story:

I wish I could thank everyone by name who came out and shared a story last week but I only have a handful of the slips from Mr. Coffee and I know there were more people than that onstage. So thanks to everyone whether you were onstage or in the audience cheering people on.

Our next show is December 14. The theme is “Fear Not! Stories of facing your fears.”

I’ll get the invite out tomorrow night. I hope you can make it.

Take care and have a great holiday 🙂


See you Thursday + KUOW needs storytellers!

Hi Everyone,

I know I’ll be seeing a bunch of you this Thursday at Roy St for our regular show but I also want to let you know about a great storytelling opportunity coming up.

Jeannie Randel of KUOW got ahold of me today to ask if I would let everyone at FGS know that they need storytellers for a live event they’re doing.

KUOW is looking for true, first-person stories for, “Why we stayed – An evening of storytelling about why people have stayed in our rapidly growing, increasingly expensive and traffic jammed city… and what they had to do to stay.” The stories must be no longer than 12 minutes.

If anyone has a story about why you’ve stayed in Seattle, what you had to do to stay, and what you’ve learned from all of it, please contact Jeannie at or call her at (206) 616-7537. It sounds like a lot of fun and if I actually lived in your wonderful city I’d be wracking my brain right now for a story about it 🙂

In the meantime, I hope you can make it to our “Anything for Love” show this Thursday.


Fresh Ground Stories: Anything for Love

November’s theme is “Anything For Love.” It’s been a long time since we’ve done a show on this topic and I’m really looking forward to it.

Bring a true story about a time in your life when you found love, lost love, chased love or did anything else for love. It doesn’t matter if the story turned out good or bad. What matters most is how it affected you. Did it make you give up on love? Were you devastated when someone left you but realized years later it was all for the best? Maybe someone fell in love with you and you learned what it was like to be on the other side of a crush.

Of course it doesn’t have to be about a person. Maybe the reason you love to cook is the time you spent in your grandma’s kitchen watching her make lasagna. Actually, if that’s your story feel free to invite me over for a private telling in your kitchen while you break out that 100-year-old recipe for chicken cacciatore.

Remember to keep it clean, practice your story 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.

I hope to see you all on November 16 at 7pm at Roy Street Coffee and Tea.


Thank you

Hi Everyone,

Thanks to all the people who made it to the show last Thursday. I never know what each month’s theme will will inspire but “Never in million years” brought out some very raw stories that surprised even me.

There were two tellers in particular who told stories so personal that I don’t want to share them out of context in an email. One was from a first-timer and the second was from one of our regulars. Everyone there that night could tell how hard it was for those two to get through their stories.

I wish I’d had a chance to find the first-timer after the show to thank him. I hope I see him again one day so I can say how much it meant to me that he chose us to share his story with. I hope it helped him to share what he experienced in the aftermath of a receiving a phone call about his 15-year-old son. I know how powerful it was to listen to.

Our second story was a very personal one about the ways life can surprise us, despite our best efforts to control it. The regular who told this story said to me afterward that three woman came up to her at the end of the night to thank her and let her know they had lived through the same thing. That means the world to me. If you ever hear a story at FGS that moves you I hope you walk up to the teller afterward and tell them that. Not only does it let the teller know they aren’t alone but it lets me know that what we’re doing at Roy Street is not only good but necessary.

The next time someone asks me why I ask that people focus on stories, rather than advocating for a political view or providing social commentary, this is the night I’m going to tell them about. Stories draw us in and help us feel someone else’s experience; beliefs sometimes get our defenses up and drive us apart.

And that’s as close as I’m ever going to get to sharing my own beliefs in these emails. What I want to do now is thank everyone who told that night: David, Chris, Devin, Elliot, Mark, Rebecca, Nigel, Carol, Kristi, John, Raul, Melanie, and Norm. Many of these folks were first-timers and I’m grateful they found the courage to get up there.

November’s show will be on the 16th which is a week early because of the holidays. The theme is “Anything for Love.” We haven’t done a show about love in a long time and now seems like a good time to do that. I’ll get the official invite out as soon as possible but mark the date on your calendar now in case it takes me a few days to get it out.

Forgive me if anything I’ve said here seems clunky. Some of your stories go pretty deep into me and it’s hard to put into words how much they affect me.

I hope to see you all on November 16th 🙂


PS – If you told a story last week and want the audio send me an email. I’ll get you the mp3 as soon as I can.